Friday 29 October 2021

October Skies

...and a celebration: The day after our misty walk, Sunday, October 17, O.K.'s village celebrated its patron saint, St. Gallus. I have written about Gallus and what the celebration involves two years ago; click here if you wish to (re-)read that.

Because of the pandemic, there had been no Gallus fest last year, but this year, restrictions were lifted enough to allow for the customary concert on the square between the church and the vicarage.

For church services, restrictions still apply, so that not as many people as usual could attend. This was also reflected in the number of people who remained on the square after mass, to have something to eat and drink and listen to the village band. Plus it was rather cold and humid (not raining, though), meaning some cut their stay short and went to their warm homes for their Sunday dinner early.

Still, it was a pleasant couple of hours or so, and I chatted to several people, the vicar among others. After their performance, the musicians had their share of food that had been kept aside for them, and something to drink.

We were home in time for mugs of steaming hot coffee (very welcome!) and cake before later setting off for a walk around the village.

The following pictures span the week from Oct. 18 to 22. Much of that week was sunny and unseasonably warm; on the Wednesday, the thermometer reached 20C - warm enough for many to go about in short sleeves!

My little autumn corner has a new addition, a hand-made covered notebook bought at the village market.

Night sky as seen from my kitchen window on Oct. 19

After-work walk on the 20th; it was ten to six pm there.

Another after-work walk on the 22nd; just after six pm.

By the weekend, temperatures dropped considerably, but it was still pleasant enough for us to explore a circuit I had read about in my local paper. That will be the subject of my next post.

Thursday 28 October 2021

October Mist

Almost there - catching up with blog posts, I mean. We have now arrived at the weekend before last, with today's post covering Saturday, October 16.
Unlike most weekends at O.K.'s, I arrived around lunch time on the Saturday and not Friday night. 
It was a day of grey skies and low hanging clouds, but dry, and so we had a quick midday snack and then set off for a walk directly from the cottage.

Somehow I have always liked the next village, Diersburg; it is not particularly picturesque but rather a mix of old and new and in-between buildings. The village itself is spread out in patches along a valley narrowing towards its end, with steep slopes of vineyards and meadows rising to the Black Forest. 
There is also a ruined castle, where we'd been some years ago, and I had read in the weekly local paper that it had seen some cleaning up and restoring recently.

We walked up the hill behind O.K.'s village, through the communal woods and out on the other side. Normally, you can see all the way to France and the Vosges mountains from here, but not today:

The autumn colours were still beautiful, even without the sun lighting them up:

Overlooking Diersburg:

Descending towards the mist-covered valley through the vineyards:

Approaching the castle ruins:

It really looks much cleaner and in better shape than last time I was here. You can see the pictures from that visit in 2018 here, if you're interested.
After exploring the ruins, we walked on to the end of the valley, up the steep slope and along the opposite side of the valley from where we'd come from:

Eventually, just as we were on the road back to O.K.'s village, the sky seemed to brighten just a little bit. Here is looking back towards Diersburg:

I actually enjoyed this misty walk; the colours and sounds were so soft, the atmosphere so still and quiet.

O.K. made stuffed mushrooms in the oven for our dinner, with a creamy sauce, matched very nicely with well-chilled white wine.

Yes, I know I am spoiled! :-)

Wednesday 27 October 2021

October Mix

The perfect Saturday, Oct. 9, was not all of that beautiful weekend: On the Sunday (Oct. 10), along with a couple of friends, we were booked for a small open-air wine fest, held at a winery near Durbach.
In late spring, at the height of the asparagus season, we had already had an online wine tasting with them, and had liked their wines matching the suggested asparagus menue well enough.

So on that sunny Sunday, O.K. and I got on our bikes and rode to Offenburg, where we met with our friends, and then on towards Durbach, occasionally on designated cycling paths but mostly on narrow country lanes winding through orchards and fields until we reached the winery.

It was a pleasant ride and nowhere near as exhausting as I had feared - it was only the 2nd time this entire year that I was cycling, and although I am reasonably fit when it comes to walking, different muscles are needed for cycling. Also, I know that our friends cover almost everything by bike, from going to work to shopping to leisure, and so I was worried about me being able to keep up with them. All the more did I enjoy the ride when I saw that it was actually rather easy!

These days, one can not simply turn up at such events, but has to book a place in advance. We arrived at the winery, checked in with the hosts and were lead to a table underneath the covered shed - away from the gorgeous sunshine. It was all done very nicely, with pretty autumn- and wine-themed decorations, proper tables and chairs etc., but... it was FREEZING!! 
Five minutes after we'd arrived, the cold crept up our feet and legs from the stone floor. A hot soup would have been more interesting than glasses of well-chilled white or rosé wine!

The young woman who took our orders apologised for the cold (not her fault!) and offered to bring blankets, which we gladly accepted. Soon afterwards, we were huddled in our blankets (and put on every bit of extra clothing we had wisely packed in our rucksacks), and once we had our food and drinks, the cold became bearable.
Some time later, other visitors left, and we had the chance to change to a table in the open courtyard, where it was a little warmer.

All in all, it was a pleasant few hours; the food and wine were good, as was the company of our friends.

Eventually, we were back on our bikes, and I enjoyed the ride back even more - not only because it was warming me up nicely, but also because after we'd said good-bye to our friends who live in town, we decided to ride back to O.K.'s village on a different route.
There is a good walking/cycling path along the river Kinzig, leading out of town towards where the river is joined by a small stream. It is a popular spot with a beer garden to one side and a beautiful view of Ortenberg castle.

Here is O.K.'s old bike that I can borrow when I'm there:

Another lovely day, and I am pleased to say we did not catch colds!

The working week started as usual, but on Wednesday (Oct. 13), I had an on-site day in Marbach, which I enjoyed. The day was foggy, as this view from the Literature Archive's terrace above the river Neckar shows:

I was back at O.K.'s again for the weekend, and there will be pictures from yet another Black Forest walk we undertook.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

October Sunset

[Still the 9th of October] It was some time after 5:00 pm when we finished our hike, and the golden autumn afternoon light was promising a wonderful sunset. O.K. suggested we drive the short distance to Burg Staufenberg overlooking Durbach - a popular spot, and we knew we were not going to be alone there, but we simply wanted the view, without visiting the restaurant. I first introduced the place on my blog with this post in 2017.

We love sunsets (who doesn't!), and of course the parking lot was as good as full, but we managed to find a spot for the car and walked up to the castle itself.

From where we were standing, we had a great view - and others wanted it, too. One lady even politely asked us to move a little to the side so that she had a chance to take a picture without other people appearing on it.

We stayed until sunset - my last picture is from 6:46 pm, the exact time of sunset as shown on the weather app on my mobile phone.

By the way, I forgot to mention that, between leaving Lautenbach and driving to the castle, we stopped at Oberkirch and had an ice cream, walking around the picturesque historic old town. An entirely perfect day!

Monday 25 October 2021

October Hike

The first weekend after our September holiday saw me back at O.K.'s. The weather was beautiful from start to finish; sunny with that golden light that we generally associate with this time of the year. 
It was perfect for hiking and walking, and of course that's exactly what we did on Saturday, the 9th of October.

Last year in November, we walked the Hexensteig (Witch's Climb) - you can click here for my post about that particular circuit. We knew that its counterpart, the Teufelssteig (Devil's Climb), started and ended at the same point, and we had agreed back then that we were definitely going to do that one, too.

Therefore, after a half hour drive to Lautenbach, we parked the car there and began today's hike.


It being a Saturday, when many people are busy around their houses and gardens, doing their weekend shopping and washing their cars etc., we did not meet many other walkers, and very few cyclists that day - just we way we like it.

We had our customary rucksack lunches at the top of these castle ruins with great views.

Later on, this big rock made a perfect resting spot, with more great views to enjoy:

This was the view I had from there. I could have stayed there for a long time; it was one of those moments when time seems to stand still and you are perfectly at ease with yourself and the world.

All in all, the circuit is somewhere around 12-13 km, a few km shorter than the Witch's Climb. We had expected the Devil's Climb to be much more challenging in terms of steepness and roughness, but it was actually a very moderate hike, with few steep bits, and much easier than we thought.

The "devilish" theme is picked up along the path every now and then, with wooden carvings etc., and at one point, this big chair - meant to be the Chief Devil's seat - is a popular photo spot for hikers. Of course, O.K. and I had to sit on it, too!

The end of the hike was by no means the end of this beautiful day; there was still some time left until sunset, and O.K. knew just where to drive us so that we could enjoy it at its best. That, however, will be the subject of my next post.