Monday 26 April 2021

Spring, Inside and Out

There is not a single photo I have to share with you from the week of April 12 - 18, but I have a few from last week.

The picture-less week does not mean I didn't see anything worth mentioning; in fact, I went for beautiful after-work walks, some of them with my sister, some on my own and one with my friend who is normally my mid-week running partner; there were sunrises and sunsets that I admired from my windows, and some really nice meals such as a quiche I made for O.K. and myself on the weekend after this recipe.

On the weekend, we went for one last walk in the palace grounds before the gates were shut again; it was less busy than we feared, and I am glad we went.

On Tuesday, the 13th of April, my after-work walk took me across Ludwigsburg's Old and New cemetery (that is their official name), both beautiful places for a walk and to sit on a bench for some pondering. Not every time I'm out walking I activate the runmeter on my mobile phone, but I did for that walk, and ended up at 8.88 km quite by coincidence.

All of that week and the past week (April 19 - 24) saw cold, frosty nights, but from last Tuesday onwards, it has been warmer during the day; warm enough to be out without my winter coat. 

On the 20th, at 6:21 in the morning - it's not been as foggy as that in a long time!

But as is so often the case, once the fog was gone, it turned out a beautiful day.

Blossoms on a tree on the 21st.

Apple blossoms on the 22nd.

Big open skies feel so good after a day spent staring at computer screens!

Late afternoon light, on the fields between Freiberg and Benningen.

Except for the Thursday of that week, I saw my sister every day; we walked together, and on Friday (April 23), the three of us (my sister, O.K. and I) participated in an online wine tasting from my living room.

I have not been to many wine tastings in my life, and certainly never before to an online one, but it was good fun and made for a nice change. After I had booked us for the event, the winery sent me a box with the four wines that we were to taste, along with a few tips such as when to put the white and rosé wines in the fridge, when to open the red, what to get ready (bread, olive oil and water), and so on.

The technical part went smoothly, too; I used my iPad to show the wine tasting on my TV instead of the three of us having to huddle around the much smaller screen of my desktop computer. That way, we could sit comfortably on the settee and my sister on the armchair, with enough distance.

The lady who presented the wines was very funny (verging on the silly), and the owner of the winery came across as a nice man, knowledgeable and unpretentious (he is the current Duke of Wuerttemberg, and his family have been making wine there for about 400 years).

We enjoyed the four wines and had a fun evening. With the curfew now being shifted to 10 pm (instead of 9:00), my sister had enough time to walk home without stress or breaking the rules.

Spring inside as well - my sister brought me these beautiful tulips last Friday.

Now I have three days left to work before my 2 1/2 weeks off begin!

Wednesday 21 April 2021

April 6 - 11

Yes, that's how far behind I am with blogging; my last post ends with me coming home on Tuesday morning after Easter. Now I want to catch up before I leave next Thursday - I have 2 1/2 weeks off work (yay!!!) and am going to spend much of it at O.K.'s.

Back to the Tuesday after Easter, the 6th of April. Both trains on my way home were punctual, and this was the first view from my kitchen window at 9:36 that morning:

In typical April manner, the weather kept changing throughout the day. There was some sunshine, but it remained cold. Just before 4:00 pm, it looked like this:

 And about 15 minutes later, like this:

From your blogs, I know some of you have had very similar weather, with rapid changes. Nothing unusual for this time of year, and yet it keeps amazing me every time.

Wednesday, the 7th of April, was very similar in that we had snow, sun, snow, strong winds and it was really cold. It did not stop me and my sister from going for an afternoon walk.

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day and a little warmer. We were at my parents' for a delicious meal of Kässpätzle (a traditional Swabian dish), made by our Mum. It was the same day our friend W died, as we learned later that night. Friday began with us watching W's funeral service, as described two posts back. 

Saturday, the 10th, saw a sprinkle of rain in the morning but turned sunny later on. O.K. and I met with my sister for an afternoon in the palace grounds - it was lovely, and simply wonderful to be able to walk among the flowers. Of course there were other people there, but not too many, and the park is spacious enough to allow for a pleasant stroll without getting too close to others.

Sunday was a quiet day with a late breakfast, a walk, a quick visit at my parents' and coffee & cake at home. The very busy week I had had was catching up with me, and I really needed to rest. On top of my normal work, I had accepted a translation job with a deadline to meet, and I delivered the finished translation three days before that. 

This week Monday (the 19th), the gates of the palace grounds were closed once more, and a curfew is in place again, keeping us in our homes from 9:00 pm until 5:00 am. Not that we could actually go anywhere, since restaurants, pubs etc. are closed anyway. But it does put a damper on things such as my sister and I visiting each other for a meal or watching a film together. 

My parents have had their first vaccine yesterday, at their GP's. All went well, and I hope they won't feel any unpleasant side effects today. I will see them tomorrow.

Monday 12 April 2021

My Easter Weekend

For me, Easter usually starts off with a traditional meal on Thursday evening, "Maultaschen", a Swabian specialty home-made by my Mum. I am sure I have talked about this before here on my blog. Anyway, it had been a very busy day at work; knowing that Friday and Monday were holidays, I squeezed in as much as possible into the four days of the working week. The short walk over to my parents', the evening spent with them and the delicious food were all the more welcome!

As you know from my previous post, later that same evening I learned of our friend W's death.

Good Friday was mild and sunny, and I went for a walk with my sister. Naturally, most of our conversation was about W and his family. It was a very active day for a bunch of squirrels - at one time, we observed four of them in one tree, and two others on the tree next to it.

My mini garden was looking its best!

That afternoon, O.K. came to pick me up - I was going to be back there precisely three months after my last visit! It was only a quarter past six when we arrived at the village, still sunny, and so we headed out for a quick welcome-back walk for me.

Saturday was mostly dedicated to household things and preparations for Easter Sunday, but we did fit in a nice sunny walk to the next village and back.

Easter Sunday saw us getting up at 7:00, so that we were going to have the leg of lamb ready in time for lunch - the Jamie Oliver recipe called for 5 hours in the oven! The recipe was really easy, and turned out truly delicious.

After our guests had gone home and the kitchen was in order again, we had enough time for a quick walk. Along the way, we met several neighbours and friends from the village, stopping for chats. As I had not seen any of them in three months, it was nice to catch up.

Easter Monday was much colder and largely grey, but rain was forecast only from about half past four in the afternoon. Therefore, we made sure to head out for a hike in the Black Forest early enough to be back in time before the rain started, and we made it! I was so happy to finally get my fix of forest hiking again, complete with sandwiches eaten on a log, and the rest of Sunday's cake with a welcome mug of coffee on our return.

Just one picture from our hike on Easter Monday, soon after we started, looking back the way we came. O.K.'s village is behind that hill on the left.

I took the morning train home on Tuesday and was back half an hour before my first work meeting. A wonderful Easter weekend on all accounts.

Friday 9 April 2021

Very Early This Morning

Usually on work days, I get up between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. Today, I was up before 5:00, so that I was ready at my computer at 5:00 - not for work. Instead, for the first time in my life, I attended a funeral service via live stream.

Last Thursday, at 10:30 pm when I was just about to turn my reading lamp off and go to sleep, my sister texted me, asking whether I had seen B's email. I had not, and immediately checked the email on my phone.

It was sad news: B's husband W had died of cancer. He was 73 years old, and until 2019, he and B were still making plans to visit us again - then in 2020, the pandemic put an end to all such ideas, as did W's illness.

B and W are our Australian friends; we have known them since 1971, when I was three years old. In spite of the long distance and sometimes infrequent communication, we never lost touch completely, and whenever we did meet or exchange emails, it was as if we'd just seen each other last week.

My Mum wrote a beautiful guest post about them in 2012; you can read it here. Now W is gone for ever, and we all attended his funeral service this morning - it was 1:00 pm in Australia, and a very hot day by the looks of it.

The service was very moving, with the children (all grown-up of course) speaking about their beloved Dad, and even mentioning each of the four of us by name when it came to talking about the friendships W had formed throughout his life.

My sister and I spent a weekend with them in France, also in 2012; those posts can also be found on my blog here and here.

The last time we saw W and B was when they were here as the biggest surprise ever, for my Mum's 70th birthday. You can read about that here.

Learning of W's death made me very sad, and this morning during the funeral service was not the only time I cried. At the same time, I feel grateful for having had W as a friend in my family's life, and for still being friends with his wife and children. In spite of being so far away, we mean a lot to each other, and it is times like this when I appreciate the opportunities we have nowadays with communication technology. I was able to "be there" even if I could not attend in person.

My thoughts are with B, her children and their families. You'd be hard pressed to find nicer, kinder people, and I am glad B is surrounded by them now and not all on her own.