Tuesday 30 November 2021

Dream Paths of Light

Sounds a bit odd, doesn't it? That's my fault - I have been thinking about how best to translate "Leuchtende Traumpfade", the title given to a festival held in Ludwigsburg's palace grounds from the end of October until next Sunday. "Lit-up dreamy paths"? "Illuminated paths of dreams"? Never mind the name - it was beautiful!

This festival was originally planned for last year but then did not come about due to the pandemic. When it was announced that it was going to go ahead this year, my Mum immediately said she wanted to go, and so one November evening (on the 17th, to be precise) after work, my sister and I met up with her at the main gates of the palace grounds.

The palace grounds are vast, and the "paths of light" do not cover the entire ground. Instead, things are arranged so that visitors can follow a sign-posted round trip of about 1.5 km. Of course it is not easy to take good pictures at night, but between my sister and myself, I have manged to cobble together this post and give quite a good impression of what it was like. As a rule of thumb, you can say that the better pictures are my sister's, and the more blurry ones are my own.

I loved this bit particularly - there was a bubble blower at the side of the path, and the stream of bubbles was lit up. Enchanting!

The decorative castle (it never was a real castle, but only built as a folly) had a waterfall and a "lightfall" coming down the rock it stands on:

The circuit did not actually lead up to this small temple, but it was illuminated and looked very pretty:

Visitors from the Deep Sea! Their tentacles were slowly moving in the wind, really making it look as if they were in the water.

We took a rest in the orangery, which was open and showing Christmas decorations. 

Last but not least, the tree-lined main path connecting two different parts of the palace grounds was like a tunnel of light beams, in constant movement.

It was an enjoyable couple of hours, and I am really glad we went. As you can see, there were other visitors about, but not too many; we always felt safe and comfortable, and of course everyone was checked at the gates.

My sister and I waited with our Mum at the bus stop before we walked home, and as the bus pulled up and the door opened, I saw that the driver was a friend of mine - he drove our Mum home safely, and later even sent me a quick message to let me know he had dropped her off at her stop as requested :-) Of course he would have done that anyway, but it was nice to see him and have a (very) brief chat.

That evening, we did not yet know that the Christmas market was going to be cancelled; all the more I am now glad we had at least this outing together.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Just A Quick One…

… with a few pictures in time for the 1st Advent Sunday.
I am at O.K.‘s for the weekend and typing this on my ipad - not my preferred way of writing without a proper keyboard, which is why I am keeping this short.

Because I won‘t be home until Monday morning, yesterday after work the only thing I did in terms of Christmas preparation was to bring the beautiful Advent wreath up from the cellar where it‘s been stored in a cool, dry place since I bought it last Saturday at a local garden center, handmade by the people working there - one of them is my sister‘s next door neighbour, and you should see her hands after she‘s been making wreaths all day!

I plan to light the first candle on Monday night instead of Sunday, and will then take a picture of the wreath to show you. In the meantime, here are the Christmas cookies I got on Thursday, made by the family friend of ours who used to be a baker and is like a big brother to me. I wish I could include here the scent of when I opened the lid! So far, I have not eaten a single cookie from the tin; I always very carefully ration them so that they last until Christmas.

Here are two pictures fron Ripon that were sent to me yesterday and today. The market square is from my friend George Pickles, the former Hornblower. The second one is from Ripon Cathedral, where my aunt J and uncle B visited the Christmas fair this week. I wish I could have joined them!

Our Christmas market here in Ludwigsburg was all set up and ready to go, as these pictures taken last week show. But… less than 12 hours before it was to open this past Tuesday, it was cancelled, because infection rates are shooting through the roof and our local hospital is full to the brim; some patients on the ICU had to be transferred to other hospitals already in order to make room for new patients.
It is all very worrying, but so far I still manage to enjoy this time of year - personally, I have nothing to complain about, just reasons for gratitude.

Monday 22 November 2021

Un-Sunny Walks

On a recent post, fellow blogger Tasker Dunham commented that it was sunny again. In my reply, I promised a post with pictures of an un-sunny walk specifically for him. And now I even have pictures of TWO un-sunny walks I undertook, on the 14th and 16th of November respectively!

Sunday, the 14th, near O.K.'s village, with deep clouds over the Black Forest:

Tuesday, Nov. 16, an after-work walk on the outskirts of Ludwigsburg, taking advantage of the last hour before sunset:

Of course, autumn colours are wonderful when they are lit up by the sun, but in my opinion, they look good no matter the weather. By mid-November, there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees, but I keep being amazed at how some orchard trees are actually still green.

And walks are important for my wellbeing, come rain or shine. Only when it is really totally dismal outside, I make an exception and don't go out during my lunch break or after work.

I have been walking for one reason or the other every day of the past week, but did not take any pictures. Just trust me if I say none of those walks was sunny!

We've seen almost no sun at all for more than a week now. According to the forecast, we can look forward to two sunny days tomorrow and Wednesday. Temperatures will drop a bit more, reaching a few degrees below freezing point at night. And by Friday, there could be the first snowfall of this season - in time for the first Advent Sunday.

Thursday 18 November 2021

A Stuttgart Visit

After the busy and exhausting (but good!) start of the week with my Berlin trip and the all-day trainings and meetings the day afterwards, I took the rest of that week (Thursday and Friday) off. On the Friday, my sister also had the day off, and we decided to meet in Stuttgart around lunch time.

We had something to eat and then had a look round for Christmas presents for our friends and family in Yorkshire before deciding that we could actually find what we wanted in Ludwigsburg, too, and would not need to carry it all around with us for the whole afternoon.

For a few months now, a ferris wheel has been standing in front of the Neue Schloss ("new palace") in Stuttgart. It is part of the "The Länd" campaign of the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, aimed at (young) experts from all sorts of industries and professions to make them move here and work in our notoriously understaffed companies. Let's not go into the sense or non-sense of this campaign; it has been widely discussed and criticised here (last but not least because it is monstrously expensive).

Anyway, I knew I wanted to ride on that ferris wheel and look at Stuttgart from a perspective never seen before or after, once the wheel will be gone.

The day had been grey and foggy until we met - and later, we heard that the sun and blue skies were only in Stuttgart and only for a few hours; right on time for our visit, and making for good views from the wheel!

Our next stop was the City Museum with its current exhibition about Wilhelm II, the last king of Wuerttemberg. It's been 100 years since his death in October 2021, and the exhibition shed light on all aspects of his life - public and private, from pets to politics.

Wilhelm in his later years. Ali and Ruby, his dogs, were at least as popular as himself.

A young Wilhelm in fashionable trousers. But the real star of the photo is the little dog!

"The King's darlings congratulate!" One of his courtiers made this as a birthday surprise for Wilhelm.

We both agreed that the exhibition was very interesting and the choice of exhibits good; the presentation itself could have been better in places. Some of the information signs were so low on the wall or even the floor that one had to kneel down to read them - impossible for some visitors. Also, the lighting was such that in places, we could not avoid casting our own shadows across the exhibit or the informative text (or both), and in some instances, there were smaller glass cases at the sides of larger exhibits where you had to squeeze into a tiny space if you wanted to look at them properly. So, yes, it could have been better, but we still did enjoy the exhibition and learned a lot from it.
I have written about Wilhelm before.

It was time for coffee and cake now, and we chose a place opposite the palace with a good view of the ferris wheel. It was lit up by then, and with darkness coming so early this time of year, it really was quite beautiful to look at.

View towards the palace and the wheel from the museum

What I saw from my seat in the café

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Read in 2021 - 15: Wenderholme

Another one of the many free ebooks I keep collecting on my kindle, this was a long read that kept me entertained for several train trips, among others the 6-hour trips to and from Berlin last week.

The book's full title is "Wenderholme - A Story of Lancashire and Yorkshire". It was written by Philip Gilbert Hamerton and originally published in 1869. I really enjoy the beautiful, often witty, and elegant writing of the time, and Wenderholme was no exception.

The subtitle is a little misleading; the Lancashire/Yorkshire aspect is not what the book puts all that much emphasis on. 
The principal storyline starts in 1853 (or thereabouts) and spans about 12 years, with dips into the past every now and then.
A wide cast of characters man the pages, all well fleshed out and portrayed as people with faults and strengths, just like real people.

At the time the story is set, big changes in society had already happened and were ongoing. Industrialisation meant that many a manufacturer had steadily accumulated enormous wealth, financially surpassing even some of the oldest and most noble aristocratic families. But the class difference was still very much there, and keenly felt - marriages between nobility and industry were usually only accepted when the nobler part were desperate for money and saw no other way out, whereas the commercial world looked upon their aristocratic counterparts with a mix of feeling: There was awe as well as despising them for their privilege, haughty ways and uselessness when it came to practical matters.

"Wenderholme" deals with all those differences, and how they affect the lives of young and old within mainly two families. There is drama in the form of premature death, alcoholism and insanity, not to mention a huge house fire, but there is also joy in making friends, finding love and one's own place in the world.

There is a lot in the book to learn about the day-to-day lives of rich and less rich people of the time, both of the idle aristocracy as of the hard-working mill owners (not their "hands", though), plus a vicar, his family and a doctor.

It was a good read, if a bit long at times, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the author. He only lived to 60, and while the wikipedia entry about him is quite detailed about his career, it says almost nothing about his personal life. A wife is mentioned in passing, but that's about it.

Saturday 13 November 2021

Last Saturday

A week ago today, O.K. and I spent good part of the day with my sister. Don't get your hopes up, though - you still won't see pictures of either of them on my blog, just little old me :-)

We started off meeting up for breakfast at a lovely little café in the town centre. The place is run by an American who offers typical American dishes such as French toast, American cheese cake and much more. We like the decor and furniture; it is a mix of vintage 1950s armchairs and tables and some very modern pieces. Everything is spotlessly clean, the staff is really friendly and the prices appropriate.

After filling ourselves up to the brim with maple syrup and other sugary things, we moved on to one of the larger shops near the market square to look for something I wanted for Christmas. It turned out the exact object of my desire does not exist, but we still had a good look round and came across some... erm... tasteful Christmas decor. (It's the same place where I once made friends with a llama.)

So tacky and over the top - I couldn't resist!

These two scared me, especially the big one - he was moving!!

So far, the day had been grey and overcast, but dry. We decided to walk to the palace grounds for a stroll there. On our way, we popped in at a new wine place; O.K. and I have been inside before and found it a very good source for wine and much more. They also offer tastings and one can book groups in for birthdays etc. This time, we sat down for a glass of prosecco or two - very comfortable, very nice and very relaxing.

Finally, we made it across the road to the palace garden, and towards the end of our stroll, the sun broke through the thick layer of clouds, lighting up the autumn colours beautifully:

O.K. and I were home in time for coffee and cake, and then there was still an hour or so left until sunset. The golden late afternoon light lured us out once more, this time for a walk on the fields.

We spent a quiet evening at home, eating the spicy spuds and parsnip soup (sprinkled with diced bacon, chestnuts and fresh coriander) I had made (very welcome, as the evening turned rather cold once the sun had gone) and later watching TV.