Tuesday 26 January 2021

More Snow, and a Tree Gone

Last week was a mix of sun and clouds, some rain, and snow on the weekend. It was also the week we learned that our current lockdown - including the curfew and limiting the number of people outside our own household we are allowed to meet in private to ONE (yes, 1) - will be kept up longer, at least until mid-February. And it was the week that saw a big old tree gone from my view, and yours:

I mean this one, the highest tree I can see when I look out of my kitchen window. It has "always" been there, always part of my view in that direction. And now it is gone. The above picture was taken on Saturday morning at 8:26.

We were just getting up and heard the sound of a chainsaw. There are many gardens in my immediate neigbhourhood, and the noise could have come from almost anywhere, but O.K. spotted someone wearing a bright neon safety vest and hard hat in that tree, cutting off the lower branches. 

We were wondering whether they would just be thinning the tree so that light could get to the ground in that garden. But by the time we returned from a snowy walk at around half two in the afternoon, only part of the trunk was left:

And by 5:00 pm, around sunset, it looked as if that tree never existed:

At the start of our walk, we briefly detoured to the street where we knew the working man (or men) would have to be to access the garden. We spoke to one of the men, and he told us that the tree had to come down because it was too large, and the risk of it hitting a person (there are three little boys in one of the houses next to it) or damaging a roof was too high.

I understand all this, but still find it a shame that the beautiful big old tree is now gone. The many birds and probably squirrels that lived or at least rested on it need to find another place. Of course, when one plants a garden, one should always keep in mind that trees do - surprise, surprise! - grow, and grow really large, if we let them and they are healthy. So it probably wasn't the best idea in the first place to plant it there, so close to houses and other gardens.

Anyway, our walk was across snowy fields, and as you can see, in the sun:

For dinner, I made a typical winter meal of boar goulash, roast spuds and sprouts with bacon. The red wine went very well with it. Dessert (cookies & cream ice cream topped with a swig of Bailey's) was taken in front of the telly; we watched "The Incredibles" - quite funny in bits, and relaxingly entertaining.

Going back to Friday of that week, it was the busiest day of the week for me in terms of work. I have now started to use my client's notebook/laptop (still can't tell the difference) for everything I do for them; I can access my virtual desktop with this client from my own company's computer, too, but for online conferences, sound and video quality is better through their computer. That means I have now two computers on the desk, switching between them depending on what I am doing. To make it look even more "impressive", we put O.K.'s macbook on my desk as well, just for fun - doesn't it make me look really important? ;-D

We went for a walk on Sunday, too; the strong wind was bitingly cold in parts, and by the time we arrived home, the headache I had been nursing all day came back with a vengeance. Again, O.K. had to leave at 6:00 in order to be home before curfew, and I went to bed only an hour later.

By Monday morning, I felt better, but it was another long and busy day at work - with eyes like mine, one should not spend 10 hours looking at computer screens. Hardly surprising, the headache came back.

But after a good night's sleep, I feel fine today - and am determined not to work quite so many hours. I have an online interview with our local paper at 5:00 and plan to finish work by 4:00, so that I have an hour in between to rest my eyes.

It has been snowing almost all day yesterday. These pictures were taken before 7:00 in the morning. I would have loved a snowy walk during the day, but couldn't make it. Never mind, there will be many more days for many more walks!

Tuesday 19 January 2021

More From Last Week

Last week was a very mixed bag in terms of weather. After the sunny Monday (see my previous post), we had just about everything else (apart from summer temperatures), including snow on the weekend.

Just one blossom - but it's yellow!

Serveral times, my sister and I met for after-work walks. I don't mind at all walking on my own, but it is also very nice to have company, especially when the walk is on very familiar ground with few surprises, no spectacular views or anything else to demand full attention.

Tuesday started with snow that turned into sleet and then into rain. Wednesday was sunny again for good part of the day, clouding over by the time I finished work and went for my briefest walk of the week.

Sunrise on Wednesday morning

Early afternoon the same day

The sky was a solid grey lid all day on Thursday, it never felt properly light, but that did not stop my sister and I from walking. We chose the opposite direction of where we'd been two days earlier, walking past the palace. My sister took the picture of me looking through the gates. She pointed out the sign on the locked gates, saying that it was a document of these strange times we're living in, with Covid restrictions in place.

I managed to finish work a little earlier on Friday, still in time to catch some of the sunshine I had wistfully been looking at all day from my desk. Determined to make the most of it, I walked for about 2 hours, taking in the beautiful sunset and returning home in near darkness.

On the weekend, O.K. was with me, and Sunday was a proper snow day! It hardly stopped snowing all day, and many were out on the fields to enjoy it. I wasn't too happy about O.K. having to drive home in it that evening, but all went well and he was home almost half an hour before curfew.

It was the perfect weather for comfort food, and I made vegetable soup for Saturday lunch, a pizza on Saturday evening and egg nests in the oven for a late and leisurely Sunday breakfast (yes, complete with sparkling wine and Earl Grey tea).

Monday 18 January 2021

Monday Last Week

A week ago today, we had the - so far - coldest day of this season: -7 Celsius (19 F). It was also the beginning of the first "proper" working week of this year for me. "Proper", because the previous week had been interrupted by a day off; Wednesday, the 6th of January, is a holiday in my part of Germany. Many of my clients had not yet returned to work that first week of the year, but now they were all going to be back, and all the regular meetings were starting again.

The day was as sunny as it was cold, and as on most Mondays, I had no meetings scheduled for the afternoon. I took advantage of that and left my desk for 1 1/2 hours and a nice walk down to the lake and back.

The lake was frozen, but the ice was very thin, making it safe to walk on only for the birds. Plenty of people were out and about, but the area is spacious enough to allow for enough distance. A kiosk was open, selling hot drinks.

Back home, I was really glad I had taken the chance to catch so much sunlight. Most days, time between one meeting and the next is so short it is not worth putting my coat on; also, I usually work on my notes from the former meeting and prepare for the next one so that there is just enough time to fetch a glass of water or a mug of coffee from the kitchen.

I went on several more walks last week, but time (again!) is running out, and so I am ending this post here. Have a good start of the week!

Thursday 14 January 2021

Read in 2020 - 28 / 2021 - 1: The Murder at Redmire Hall

The Murder at Redmire Hall

J. R. Ellis

# 3 in the Yorkshire Murder Mystery series 

As I read about 80 % of this book still in 2020 and only the last part in 2021, I have decided to count it for both years. 

Third in the series, by now the reader knows the characters well. For those who have not read the first two books, some background is provided; although I would recommend reading them in order, each of these mysteries can stand alone.

Books set in Yorkshire are always interesting for me, and this one particularly so: DCI Oldroyd and his team investigate a murder at Redmire Hall, a stately home outside Ripon. Of course, Harrogate also features frequently, as it is where Oldroyd lives. Both places are real; Redmire Hall is fictional, but based on a real stately home near Ripon. Readers familiar with the area will be delighted to find out that they - like me - guessed right at which one the author had in mind; he tells us in the acknowledgments at the end of the book.

The murder is most puzzling and a classic "locked room mystery" in the best sense - not only does it happen in a locked room, but the room itself is part of an illusion the murder victim performs to entertain a group of guests - with Oldroyd and Stephanie in the front row, and live on TV.

Soon, motives and suspects emerge left, right and center, and two more people die before two mysteries are solved: who did it, and how the locked room trick works.

Like the first two, I enjoyed this book very much. There are two more on my kindle, and the latest one is ready for pre-order - I'll be sure to get that one as well.

Every now and then, I contact the author of a book I have enjoyed. I did that last week, writing to John Ellis and telling him of my reviews of his books here on my blog. He replied to me very kindly, and even left comments on those two posts; you can find them here and here. His homepage is here.

Monday 11 January 2021


The first week back at work was busy, but not really stressful; many of my clients were still on holiday, and those who were there all seemed to be reasonably relaxed about getting into work mode again. Also, we had the added benefit of a day off - Epiphany (or "Holy Three Kings", as the day is called here), the 6th of January, is a Bank Holiday in my part of Germany (not everywhere).

View from my kitchen window on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021

My parents' balcony the same morning, a little earlier.

Still the same day, Sunday Jan. 3

Traditionally, the 6th is also the day Christmas decorations come down and the tree is put away; I did exactly that and only once I had finished, did I go for a walk.

Jan. 6 - what was left of Christmas!
With the tree gone, the armchair is back in its usual place.

It was snowing and sleeting almost all day, and I wisely wore my fleece-lined wellies for the walk - enjoying NOT having to pay attention at the muddier parts of my path across the fields. I walked for two hours, and by the time I was back home, my winter coat was rather wet, although the wetness had not made its way through to the inside. 

A mix of snow and sleet was falling all day on the 6th.

Having that day off in the middle of the week was really nice; I could easily get used to that rhythm!

On Friday evening, about 20 minutes before curfew hits at 8:00 pm, O.K. arrived for the weekend. We enjoyed the shakshouka I made, along with a bottle of red wine spaced out across the evening.

Saturday was the first sunny day in what felt like weeks but was really just about 8 days. We did not go out until about sunset, though, as we were busy all day: O.K. put up several lamps which I had bought ages ago (one was a birthday present from him last year!) but never "got round to" mounting on walls and ceilings myself. I must admit I am a little scared of working so close up with electricity, not really knowing much about it, and so I was very grateful and glad that O.K. did it for me. The whole thing involved some drilling, a lot of getting up and down ladders, fetching tools, getting rid of packaging and sweeping of dust.

We still were ready to go for a walk before curfew, and were out for about an hour. After that, the warmth of my flat was very welcome.

Sunday was my sister's birthday. With the restrictions we are under, of course no proper party of birthday "do" was possible, but we (O.K and I) were invited to her place for a leisurely late breakfast. As it was another sunny day, we went for a walk together afterwards.

Yesterday afternoon; the clouds looked like a row of terraced houses (photo by my sister).

Towards the end of yesterday's walk, just after 4:00 pm.

O.K. had to leave early, so that he would be back home before 8:00 pm - he made it well in time, but the roads were rather busy.

Now the second working week begins. It will be very much back to normal, with all the regular meetings taking place again, now that almost everyone has returned to work.

It is the coldest day of this season so far, with -7C an hour ago when I last checked. Stay warm and keep safe!

Saturday 2 January 2021


It looks nice, today‘s date written down like this, almost like one of those puzzles that ask you to continue the row of numbers. But I digress. Let me really start this, my first post of the year, by wishing all my readers all the best for this still very new circuit of our planet around the sun. We are realistic enough to know it won‘t be all nice and good, but of course we all hope that there will be more of the good and less of the bad.

After a week at O.K.‘s, I am going to travel home this evening. We both start work again on Monday, and I will use tomorrow to get ready, sort my washing and my Christmas presents, catch up with my family - hopefully a walk with my sister - and just generally settling back in. There will be three different trains to catch, none of which is expected to be full. I shall be wearing an FFP2 mask and avoid touching door handles. If all goes according to plan, I will arrive in my home town at 10 to 8, giving me just about enough time to reach my front door before curfew.

I enjoyed this time of rest, and being with O.K. for a full week. We went for walks, had delicious meals and saw his parents, sister and brother-in-law. It was good not having to be up at a certain time and generally just doing what we felt like. It could be May before I have time off work again (apart from the weekends, of course, and holidays such as Easter), so I am really grateful for what I had now.

Looking back through the pictures stored on my phone, I have found a few from around Christmas that I have not shown you yet; nothing special, just to illustrate the past 1 1/2 weeks a little:

Wearing my silly Christmas jumper on Christmas Eve morning:

A few more decorations on my tree:
Some of the presents Santa brought me; out of the four parcels from England I was told to expect, two had not yet arrived before I left home on the 25th.
A walk on the 24th:

The very large Christmas tree at Stuttgart main station:

A very light dusting of snow on Boxing Day morning, as seen from O.K.‘s balcony:


All three trains were on time, and few other people were on them, so that there was plenty of space between me and them. Curfew here hits at 8:00, and I put the key in my front door exactly as the nearby church bells rang 8! There had been quite a few police around at the train station, and I saw them in discussion with a group of people with suitcases, but I simply walked past and nobody wanted anything from me.

This morning, on the 3rd of January, my neighbourhood is covered in about an inch of snow. It looks beautiful, and I will certainly go for a walk in a bit, while it lasts.