Friday 30 June 2023

Miles & More Week

Not really "Miles & More" as in the airline scheme, but in that I was zooming back and forth all over the place during the week from June 19 to 25, ending up with I don't know how many miles of train trips under my belt.

Also, it was hot all week, with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius (80s F) and only a brief respite on Wednesday, when it was a tad cooler at maybe 25 Celsius. But we had some very welcome and badly needed rain, too.

Starting on Monday (June 19) with a train trip to Kassel, roughly 350 km from my hometown; the trip was pleasant enough, taking me through towns and countryside I don't see often. Unsurprisingly, I arrived with a 40 minute delay, but had plenty of time before the start of my meeting. 

My non-descript hotel room. Small, clean; good for one night.

Views from my room

The reason for the trip was a meeting with the German Association of Data Protection Officers, of which I am a member. The meeting was good - it usually is when you are with a group of like-minded people who want to do some serious work but also know how to have fun -, and there was even time for a short walk up to Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a famous landmark not far from our hotel, before we all met again for dinner.

Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. I would have loved to explore, but there was not enough time for that.

View from Wilhelmshöhe towards Kassel

A cobbled courtyard near the hotel
It rained during the night and early morning of Tuesday (June 20), but was still hot and damp at 30 C. The meeting continuted after breakfast, and then I had the long train journey home - this time, no hitch, and I arrived at my flat at around 8:00 pm.

Another rainfall made for a slightly cooler Wednesday, the 21st of June. I was taking part in a seminar in Weilimdorf all day, which was good but as exhausting as such things can be.

Knowing it was technically the longest day of the year with sunset being a little after 9:30 pm, I marked it as my personal midsummer celebration and walked to Benningen, enjoying every step in the evening light.

For the third (and last) time that week, it rained during the night to Thursday (June 22), but warmed up again to 32 C during the day. I worked on-site in Weilimdorf again and was too tired (and it was too hot) for an after-work walk.

Sunset view from my Third Room

Friday (June 23) meant an early start, because I was expected in Obertürkheim. It is only about 20 km from Ludwigsburg, but train trips are complicated right now due to construction works on the train lines, and it takes at least an hour to get there.

We had a good meeting with the regional group of my professional association; I gave two presentations myself and found the discussions and presentations of the others quite interesting.

After we'd wrapped up the meeting, I started to O.K.'s directly from Obertürkheim, making my usual Friday evening trip longer by about half an hour. A delay of 20 minutes meant I arrived in Offenburg at about 8:45 pm. 

The evening was pleasant enough for us to sit out on O.K.'s balcony for our meal of bread, cheese and rosé wine - a lovely start into the weekend, and it could not come too soon for me!

We were at a wedding on Saturday, the 24th of June. Bride and groom are in the village band, so O.K. had to be in church in time to provide the music for the service. I went up a little later and sat with O.K.'s parents - the church was full, and much warmer than anticipated.

After the service, most of the congregation (myself included) went over to the vicarage garden, where the band played some more, and sparkling wine (and other drinks) were served.  

At 30 Celsius, everyone was looking for shade, and I felt sorry for the band members in their full uniform - some of them were right in the sun, and visibly glad when they finished playing!

Those of us who were invited to the actual wedding party then took off to the venue about 17 km away. We had secured a ride with another family so that O.K. did not need to drive. 

It was a good party, with delicious food, plenty to drink, only two "silly" games (I am not too fond of this part of most weddings), and a live band to provide music for the small dance floor.

The venue is right on the border of the river Rhine, next to a bridge crossing over to France. Views from there were beautiful, and around sunset, everyone tried to get to the top floor and take pictures.

We stayed until the family we were to ride home with left, and arrived at the cottage at 20 to 1 in the morning - a little early for a wedding, but it was fine by us; we'd had our fill of food, drink and dancing.

As usual after such a celebration, Sunday (June 25) was quiet. The day was too hot at 32 C to go for a walk or do much; we hung out at the cottage, went to see O.K.'s parents (they live just across the road from the cottage) and had a short nap in the afternoon.

The evening light drew us out for a sunset walk around the village, which was really beautiful. 

We ended the day (and the week) by having our delicious meal of O.K.'s home made ratatouille and Apérol Spritz on the balcony.

Monday 26 June 2023

June 12 to 18

I am so behind with posting! Trying to keep things short should be helpful, so let's see how short I can make this breezing through another week with me:

Monday, the 12th of June, saw me working from home; a series of appointments/calls kept me tied to the screen until 5:00 pm. All the more did I enjoy the after-work walk with my sister.

I was working on-site in Marbach on Tuesday (June 13) during the morning but had to head home quickly in order to be at my desk for an online meeting at 2:00 pm. A massage for my tense neck, shoulders and back at 6:30 pm helped, as did the sunset walk with my friend, starting at 9:00 pm from her house.

View from the German Literature Archive in Marbach across the river towards Benningen
20 past 9 pm on the same day
Weilimdorf was my place of work for the next two days. On Wednesday, the 14th of June, my main employer was hosting a "Sustainability Day". Some of it was very interesting, but to be honest, I was much more looking forward to the party afterwards. Our big bosses threw a BBQ and later went on stage as a band - a huge surprise for all of us! They were doing well, having the whole company singing along and demanding encores.
Lunchtime walk. I work in that long building, but my window is at the back.
Both Wednesday and Thursday I managed a quick walk during lunch break with my colleague, but it was only on Thursday that I arrived home in time for a good sunset walk to Benningen. At one point, four red kites were circling above a field - beautiful!
On my way to Benningen, just after 8:00 pm
Friday saw me working from home again. I was at my Mum's for lunch (always a good idea!) and at the hairdresser's for a trimming at 3:00 pm. At 7:00 pm, I met my girlfriends for an evening out - my first time this year. It was lovely to see them all again.

On Saturday morning, some from my volunteer group met for breakfast at "Bubbles", one of our favourite cafés in town. My sister, a friend of ours and I met at our Mum's for pizza in the evening.

I spent the day quietly at home on Sunday, going for a walk only in the evening when the heat of the day subsided somewhat. Because O.K. and I could not spend the weekend together for "musical" reasons (engagements with the village band), we spoke on the phone several times a day.

All week was sunny and getting warmer towards the weekend; Monday started at around 27 Celsius, reaching around 30 by Friday. Not a drop of rain fell since the brief thunderstorm and shower on the 8th of June.

That was short, wasn't it?

Sunday 18 June 2023

A Ghost Story in 100 Words

Maybe some of you know our Yorkshire-based fellow blogger L and her blog "Thirdage Blogger". Ever since I read her ghost story in 100 words last December, I was making up my own mini story. But only now, during this weekend home alone, I have gotten round to put it in writing:

Maisie and Bert

Early evening light fell into Bert's bedroom. The door creaked softly.  

"That you, Maisie?" 

She came in, the same smile on her face that had captured his heart all those years ago when he had first seen her. "Yes, Bertie." 

Her comforting hand, light as a feather on his cheek; love in her eyes, as beautiful as when she had looked at him at their wedding. 

Tonight, sleep was going to come easy. 


"What a coincidence," Dr. Parker mumbled as she was filing Bert's death certificate into the folder. "Their dates of birth and death are exactly five years apart." 

Friday 16 June 2023

First Full Week of June

And a full week it was indeed!

As usual after a weekend at O.K.'s, Monday (the 5th of June) we had a very early start so that I could be at the train station in time for the journey home. I arrived in Ludwigsburg on time (yay!).

Mid-afternoon, my old washing machine was picked up. When I took the instruction manual out to throw it away, I found the service card with the handwritten date and signature of the technician who originally installed it at my grandma's: May 7, 1992. I inherited the machine when my grandma died in 2001. Of course I am fully aware that the new one won't last 31 years. Seeing that handwritten date brought on a small bout of nostalgia. I was 24 years old then, and both my life and the world were very different places to be in.

Later, I walked to Fatma's new place (my friendly upstairs neighbours moved to a bigger flat last month) to deliver some mail that had arrived for them. It was good to see her and her daughter (husband was still at work), and although their new flat is near a very busy road, it is about twice the size of the attic flat in my house, and everything is new and modern. I am really pleased for them.

I ended the evening by looking after my friends' cats. We were not yet on speaking terms, but they were certainly curious and followed me round, and I was allowed to stroke them and even brush them a little (their long hair needs daily brushing).

Tuesday, June 6, was sunny and pleasantly warm at 24C (75.2F). I worked at the office and went for a lunchtime walk with a colleague. In the evening, I popped in at my Mum's and went from there to fulfill my cat-sitting duty (or rather, pleasure). It is so good when you have nearly everything within walking distance.

I was again at the office on Wednesday (June 7). Another sunny day, another lunchtime walk, another evening of looking after those two lovely boys (my friends' cats). Our relationship progressed every day, and there were attempts at conversation now, as well as brushing sessions becoming longer, with tummies being offered, too. 

A good day altogether, but I had a headache and was very tired in the evening. Self-testing for Covid brought a negative result - not that I had really expected a return of the infection so soon after my first bout, but I wanted to be cautious.

Thursday, the 8th of June, was a day off (Corpus Christi). Because of me not having Friday off and some other things that needed doing, O.K. and I spent the day separately.

The morning began sunny, but while my sister and I were at my Mum's for coffee in the afternoon, a thunderstorm started. For the first time since May 15, we had some rain! It was nowhere near enough to make up for the past three dry weeks, but it freshened things up a bit. By the time I went to look after Totoro and Haku, the sun was back out, and when I left them, I did not go home immediately but added a walk before calling it a day.

A series of calls made Friday (June 9) morning unusually busy; most Fridays are rather quiet in terms of work, and allow me to go about my tasks largely undisturbed. They are often the most productive day of the week.

O.K. had the day off and arrived at my place late afternoon. We went to buy a few things for tomorrow's BBQ, and only after I had also checked in on the cats, we went to town for something to eat. Normally, I enjoy the fish & chips at "my" Irish pub, but they were not as crispy as I like it, and I was left a tad disappointed. Still, it was a beautiful evening in the relaxed atmosphere of the market square.

Ludwigsburg Market Square, as seen from our table in front of the pub

Statue of a cat on the roof of an old townhouse in my neighbourhood
My sister was hosting a BBQ at her allotment on Saturday, the 10th of June. O.K. and I went early enough to help with setting everything up, and by the time the others arrived - my Mum, her friend who lives in the same house and another friend of my sister's -, O.K. had the grill going and we were starting on drinks and the sumptuous spread (it was a combination of bring-in and things provided by my sister).

The day was perfect for it - not too hot in the shade of the large trees on the allotment, no wasps bothering us, and plenty of everything for everyone. It was a nice afternoon and evening, the first time we had a gathering like this at my sister's allotment.

My friends whose cats I had been looking after had returned home that afternoon, so I only needed to drop off the key with them. O.K. and I concluded the evening with an Apérol Spritz at home.

Sunday (June 11) saw us back at lake Monrepos, where O.K. rowed me across the lake once again after we had quenched our thirst with Apfelschorle (apple juice and sparkling water) - no shandy this time, since O.K. had to drive home that evening.

Walking to the lake through the deer park, we spotted some deer seeking the shade - not so long ago, they would have been basking in the spring sun.

We had green asparagus for dinner, and shortly after 8:00 pm, O.K. left. It was really pleasant temperature-wise at that time, and so I set off for another walk to catch the beautiful evening light and birdsong on the fields.

Monday 12 June 2023

Last of May, First of June

In Germany, including the federal state where I live, May and June are the time of year with the most public (bank) holidays. Of course, the 1st of May starts it all off. Ascension is next, always a Thursday, enabling a lot of people to take the Friday off and make a nice little break of it.
Pentecost follows, with the Monday being a day off for most. Then, there is one more Thursday, Corpus Christi. After that, it's usually a long stretch until the 3rd of October (German Unity Day), 1st of November and finally Christmas.

This year, Pentecost Monday was the 29th of May. As mentioned in this post, O.K. did not have to drive home on the Sunday evening; instead, we had another day off to look forward to, and a 4-day working week.

It was sunny and warm, allowing for a nice walk first to the small palace by the lake (Monrepos) and then on to Asperg, where we stopped for a shandy at a beer garden.

After a brief rest home, the two of us and my sister were at my Mum's for a delicious and delightful evening meal on her balcony.

On Tuesday (May 30), I was up early and made it to my regular eye check in Stuttgart well in time. Part of my lunch break was spent at my friends' house; they were going on holiday at the end of the week, and I had offered to help care for their cats while they were away. One neighbour in the same building would do the mornings, and I would look after them in the evenings. Our lunch time meeting was a first mee & greet with the cats (they are new in the family, after dear little old Hobbes died) and instructions about how much food to give them etc.

The last day of May was Wednesday, and I worked at the office, walking home from Zuffenhausen afterwards.
It was back to working from home on Thursday, the 1st of June. Another beautiful sunny day, and I joined my sister at her allotment after work, helping a little with the watering and generally keeping her company.
It never ceases to amaze me how peaceful and quiet that little green oasis in the middle of a town of over 90,000 inhabitants can be - provided the other allotment holders are not too noisy!
On Friday (2nd of June), I took trains to Stuttgart twice: First, I spent all morning at one of my clients' in the city centre. Back home, I worked a little more before starting my usual cleaning round and packing my little red suitcase for the weekend. Shortly after 6:00 pm, I was on my way to Stuttgart main station again - this time to catch my regular Friday evening train to Offenburg. With a delay of about 15 minutes, it was still daylight by the time O.K. picked me up.
We started Saturday (June 3) by having coffee on O.K.'s balcony; it was already sunny, but not too hot yet to enjoy the morning sun. I then went to the wooden hut just outside the village where a farmer regularly sells fruit and veg during spring and summer, and got us fresh strawberries, blueberries and green asparagus.
With O.K.'s parents, his sister and her husband, we spent the afternoon and evening at their allotment, enjoying a family barbecue. 
Sunday, the 4th of June, began just like Saturday had. Later, we went for a nice long walk of about 14.5 km straight from O.K.'s cottage, taking in three huts in the Black Forest: Sägereck, Barack and Handwerkerhütte.
It was sunny and warm, but very pleasant in the woods. For the sunnier bits, we were glad to be wearing hats. 




Foxglove season is in full swing in the Black Forest.

View across the Rhine plain to Offenburg and the Vosges mountains (France) in the background

As I said, it's foxgloves season...

...but there are other wild flowers, too.

Diersburg (village next to O.K.'s village)

poppy seeds (Here, they are used mostly for oil... I assume.)

Looking towards Ortenberg

corn flowers

typical mix of flowers on the fields around here this time of year
Our evening meal was taken on the balcony, starting with Apérol Spritz (bitter orange liqueur, sparkling wine and soda water) before we enjoyed the green asparagus O.K. had fried in a pan and finished off with balsamico vinegar - really nice, and not at all "vinegary"!
Just like the week before, not a drop of rain had fallen all week. In fact, the last time it rained in my area had been on May 15.