|Glimpse of one of the churches on the market square through a gate to a court yard off the main road|
Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Friday, 24 June 2022
Two years ago, O.K. and I walked a circuit in the Black Forest near Durbach that was to include several remote farms, the Gebirge-Höfe-Weg (literally "mountain farms way"). Back then, we only really enjoyed the first half, as we were totally soaked on the second half. We knew that we wanted to repeat that walk under more favourable circumstances, and we did just that on the 12th of June.
Pictures and a description of that walk are here on my 2020 post.
This time, not a single drop of rain was in sight - it was very hot, and some of the steep uphill bits were a real challenge for me; I had to stop for breath a few times, and any bit of shade was very welcome. Much of the walk was in the woods, though, and that was definitely the best place to be on a day like that!
Back at O.K.'s cottage, after an afternoon nap we felt much refreshed and spent the evening on the balcony. O.K. grilled zucchini and aubergine for us along with merguez, and the well chilled rosé was perfect on that beautiful summer evening.
All week, I had been picking cherries through my kitchen window - enough to share with my elderly neighbour and with my parents, and a small bowl for me as dessert every night. The weather turned very hot then, and after a few thunderstorms with rain, my cherry season was over - plenty left on the tree, but overripe and rotting faster than we could pick them. Still, the ones I did have were great, and I gladly left the rest to the blackbirds.
Thursday, 23 June 2022
by Robin Ince
Was it a birthday gift, or did I already receive this for Christmas? Anyway, my sister came across this wonderful, wonderful book and immediately thought it would be something for me - and right she was!
I enjoyed every single page of this work of non-fiction, savouring it over a period of several months. It is the best book I have read so far this year, and has great potential of becoming my personal Book of The Year, as well as being re-read at some stage.
Part of the blurb on the jacket reads: "In this witty and often profound tour through science, Robin argues that scientific wonder should be for everyone. Packed with interviews featuring astronauts, comedians, teachers, quantum physicists, neuroscientists and more [it shows] that many wrongly think of [science] as distant and difficult. [...] This optimistic book will leave you with a thirst for intellectual adventure."
And it does exactly that! Just have a look at some of the chapters' headlines:
- Armchair Time-Travel - Putting out your beach blanket on the sands of time
- Big, Isn't It? - On coping with the size of the universe
- Swinging from the Family Tree - Inviting yeast to the family reunion
- More Important than Knowledge - On the necessity of imagination
Now, aren't these intriguing as well as promising? Believe me, each chapter lives up to that promise, delivering insights and plenty of food for thought in a very entertaining manner. More than once, I found myself chuckling at the end of a paragraph, regardless of whether it was about the existence (or not) of God, what's happening at a subatomic level or standup comedy.
Don't think this book isn't for you - it really truly is for everyone who can read, and I guarantee it is just as much a page turner as the latest Harlan Coben.
Robin Ince is the co-creator and presenter of the BBC Radio 4 show "The Infinite Monkey Cage" and has toured the world with scientist Brian Cox to make science accessible to everyone. The Covid pandemic put an end to their touring, and the enforced confinement lead to him writing this book in order to keep (?) his sanity. You can find out more about him and his work here on Wikipedia.
Thank you, sister, for finding and giving me this gem!
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Of course, the day as such wasn't longer than any other day, but you know what I mean - the time between sunrise and sunset was at its longest yesterday, June 21st. From now on, slowly but surely we are moving towards the shortest day. It is comforting in a way, isn't it; knowing that this has been going on for millions of years regardless of what's happening in our little lives. Everything seems so insignificant compared to the workings of the universe in general and of our solar system in particular.
Here, we were lucky in that the day was not too hot with even a rather chilly morning, making it easy to fill the house with fresh air and cool everything down a little after the very hot days of the weekend.
After work, my sister and I met up and bought Asian takeaway food, bringing it over to our parents' for a meal with them. My Mum cooks every day and makes sure they both eat healthy homecooked food all the time, but every now and then, a change is welcome when she does not need to cook.
The food was nice and we're going to use that shop (it was our first try) again.
It was still only about 7:30 pm when my sister and I left; it had been a long and somewhat difficult day for both my parents and they needed to rest. Sunset was going to be at 9:30 precisely, giving me plenty of time for a long walk, and that's of course what I did.
It was just beautiful out on the fields, the air was pleasant and balmy with not too many annoying little flying things about. I deliberately chose grassy paths and dirt tracks where possible, to avoid the many cyclists still out and about.
The last picture is the view from my Third Room, which has been my work place almost exclusively for more than two years now. Two large trees have been cut down in the neighbouring gardens recently, which I found a pity, but it now enables me to see more of the sunset.
Bye-bye, longest day! I am glad I had the chance to accompany it to the last bit.
Monday, 20 June 2022
Here in Germany, the 1st weekend in June was a long weekend, with the Monday being a public holiday (Pentecost).
As mentioned three posts back, instead of my usual Friday evening train, I travelled to O.K.'s only on the Saturday. Trains and train stations were EXTREMELY crowded, not just because of it being the start of a two-week school holiday (Pfingstferien in German, "Pentecost holiday"), but also because the government here has introduced a monthly ticket for all local and regional public transport at the price of 9 €, to induce people to use more public transport.
It certainly works, but my guess is that after this special offer spanning three months ends, most of those who used their own cars before will go back to them - last but not least because there has been so much chaos with overcrowded, late and cancelled trains due to the masses of people flooding the trains and stations with their 9-euro-tickets.
This was a political decision and not really coordinated with the railway companies, who have been totally overwhelmed by it all. Things were bad before (you know how often I have mentioned cancelled or late trains on my blog) but are even worse now.
Anyway, back to topic: I just about made it to O.K.'s in time for us to attend a garden party, a friend's birthday we'd been invited to. The party was nice, the food so-so, and at some stage a quick shower saw us all gathering under the marquee - along with about a million mozzies! We escaped relatively unscathed, though; mosquito bites are an inevitable part of summer here anyway, and no big deal. Still, I hate them with a passion!
A thunderstorm came through properly during the night, with the rain being more than welcome and necessary.
Sunday, the 5th, was a mix of sun and showery clouds. We had enough time for a quick walk around the village before setting off in the late afternoon.
Again, we were meeting friends, this time driving for about 20 minutes in the opposite direction. It was a bring-in BBQ, and there was plenty of food on the large table for the ten of us.
On Monday, June 6, was quite warm and sunny with few clouds, and we started by having our first mug of coffee on the balcony - always an event worth mentioning, as it marks the "true" beginning of summer for me.
The woods are the best place to be when it gets so warm, and since we had not had a chance for a proper long walk all weekend, we were glad about the extra day off.
Starting directly from the front door and leaving the car comfortably in its cool garage, we walked on familiar paths, covering places with names such as Nächstenbach ("next beck"), Sägereck ("sawyer's corner") and Handwerker-Hütte ("craftsmen's hut"). We took in Diersburg on the way back, one of the neighbouring villages to O.K.'s, and were home about 16.5 km later.
|On the way to Nächstenbach, where a small fête was going on; a nice occasion for a shandy and a chat with a fellow member of the village band and his family we bumped into there.|
|Diersburg - a familiar view for you by now.|
|A door to a secret garden?|
|This old building is part of an estate owned by a local count and his family. They run a winery and have tables and chairs in the courtyard, but so far we've never really visited this picturesque place.|
My trip back to Ludwigsburg on Tuesday morning included a delay of about 1/2 hour, because there was an unannounced change of tracks at my connection in Karlsruhe - by the time I (and all the other passengers waiting on the platform) realised this, the train I had meant to catch was long gone.
Not to worry, though, as I was still home in time for my first call that morning. After work, I went to visit my Dad in hospital (after yet another test, of course) and then accompanied my Mum home on the bus, where we had a glass or two of well chilled rose secco - a drink only the two of us really enjoy; the rest of the family can't be bothered with anything tasting of roses.
That was my last hospital visit - hopefully for a long time! -, because my Dad was home on Thursday, the 9th.
Friday, 17 June 2022
by Nicola Thorne
Not long ago I read my first book by this gifted author; click here for my review of Coppitts Green. Much of what I said there is also true for Hammersleigh.
The story is set in Yorkshire, in a fictitious dale with everything you'd expect: a small village with some lone houses and farms dotted at its outskirts, and a big house complete with the ruins of a priory in its grounds. The time is the 1970s - so, no internet where the characters could do reserach, and no smartphones that would make it easier to stay in touch and exchange news!
Same as Coppitts Green, the book is well written with characters and places portrayed in a manner that allows the reader to picture it all clearly. The story has a paranormal element to it but does not necessarily boil down to that; for me, it is more a coming of age story, about people finding their place in life.
Karen, recently widowed and not yet 30, returns to the village where she was born. She enjoys getting re-acquainted with the place and the people, and after an extended and comfortable stay at the inn, she even moves back into her childhood home, renting it from its new owner.
Also, she takes up painting again, a talent that was left dormant during the busy years travelling the world with her airforce pilot husband.
But then, strange things begin to happen: Karen discovers things in her paintings she can not remember having painted, or even known about before. Also, the arrival of the big hall's owner with his new wife creates quite a stir in the village, and in Karen's tranquil life. And what role does her mostly absent landlord play in all this?
I really loved this book and am certainly going to look for more by Nicola Thorne, whose website is here. I wouldn't mind clinking glasses with her - check out her picture on the website to see what I mean :-)
Thursday, 16 June 2022
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Friday, 10 June 2022
|View from my window|
|View from my floor of the hotel, from where the lifts are|
|The hotel, as seen from the river terrace|
|Looking one way along the river Spree...|
|...and looking the other way.|
|Walking back towards the train station, the TV tower at Alexanderplatz comes into view.|