Thursday, 31 August 2023
Monday, 28 August 2023
The past week may well turn out to be the last one for 2023 we can justly call summer. After nearly every day saw the temperature reach above 30C (mid-/high 80s F) and brought several thunderstorms with rain, Saturday and Sunday were considerably cooler with an overnight drop to around 20C and under (68F).
My trains back to Ludwigsburg were on time on Monday morning (21st of August). It was too hot for a comfortable walk right after work, and so I waited until the main TV news were over and left the house at 20 past 8 in the evening, going for a sunset walk of about 1 1/2 hours.
I worked at the office in Weilimdorf on Tuesday, the 22nd of August, and again it was too hot for a walk, and since I'd been away all day, I quite enjoyed spending a quiet evening home, playing my favourite computer game, watching TV, reading, and talking to O.K. on the phone after he'd returned from his sister's birthday party.
|View from my kitchen window, Tuesday morning just before 7:00.|
Thursday, the 24th of August, meant working from home like most Thursdays. The date itself made me think of Christmas Eve - one of my favourite days of the year - being only four months away.
A very unpredictable mix of sun and rain and more sun and more rain made me abandon the idea of a walk - the weather app on my phone was wrong every time it rained, saying that Ludwigsburg was just "partly cloudy" :-D
|The same view on Thursday morning.|
We had fun and got talking to people at our table; not even getting stung by a wasp put a real damper on the evening. Can you believe I was the ONLY person at our table constantly surrounded by wasps? Unlike the others, I did not even have food in front of me, plus I had sprayed myself with a repellant - it seemed to have the opposite effect! Good job I carried an instant treatment stick with me; it helped a little. But even today, three days after the sting, the spot on the inside of my upper arm is still red and itchy.
|Minutes after this picture was taken, I was stung by a wasp.|
The live band were good, but once again had to take a long break (1 1/2 hours) because of an open air theatre performance nearby. We used that time slot to go to the bus stop where I waited with my Mum until I knew her safely settled in the bus, then I returned to the fest. I did not buy any more drinks but just kept close to the stage, singing and dancing along to the music until about 11 pm, when it started to rain. Good job I live so close to the town centre - I was home in under 10 minutes.
On Saturday, I wrapped up my house work and then made my way to the train station. It was considerably cooler at 21C, and there were showers all along the way to Offenburg, where I arrived early afternoon.
We joined O.K.'s parents, his sister and her husband, a few friends and neighbours on their patio for coffee and cakes (delicious!) to celebrate the birthday of O.K.'s Mum - she turned 83.
O.K. and I could not stay for the evening meal, since we had another birthday party to attend: The youngest sister of O.K.'s ex wife turned 50. The party was held in their beautiful garden; a few drops of rain did not bother us under the tents and umbrellas that had been erected. There was plenty of food (salad bar and BBQ) and drink, and we enjoyed talking to the family and friends.
At night, of course it cooled off further, and even though we had prepared ourselves with extra layers of clothing, eventually it just didn't feel comfortable anymore to sit and talk. We were among the last guests to leave and arrived at the cottage just before midnight.
Sunday started sunny, but more rain was forecast, and so we made sure to be out for a walk after our (late) breakfast. The temperature was hard to judge; although it did not show more than about 20 on the thermometer, it felt rather hot and humid in the sun, and I was glad that I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We returned home after about 7.5 km, and just in time - maybe 2 minutes later, it began to rain again.
By early evening, the sun made an attempt to return, but it was really chilly; good job O.K.'s Mum had booked a table indoors at a pizzeria/restaurant in the neighbouring village. This time, there were only the six of us (O.K.'s parents, his sister and her husband, O.K. and I), no neighbours, friends or relatives - but by coincidence, some (distant?) relatives had the table next to ours.
Afterwards, O.K. and I spent the rest of the evening quietly; Monday mornings mean an early start for both of us (5:20), since O.K. takes me to the train station in Offenburg and then drives on to work.
Thursday, 24 August 2023
by Mary Russell Mitford
Not what my kindle edition looks like - I have nicked this picture from somewhere online.
This was an unusual read. Not because the book was first published in a magazine in the form of about 100 literary sketches and uses expressions you won’t find in more recent books; I have read many books from that period and am used to their style and vocabulary.
But in my free kindle edition, the foreword alone was nearly as long as the author’s work. It was written by a lady who greatly admired Miss Mitford, and could not resist turning it into almost a full biography. I was never quite sure whether I was still reading a foreword to something that was yet to come, or whether this was the actual book.
The book itself can not really be called a story, neither is it a proper diary. I’d rather call it a collection of vignettes describing places, people, walks and other outings in and around Miss Mitford's village, roughly following the span of a year with the changing seasons.
Several characters reappear "months" later after their initial introduction, but mostly, each chapter has its own location and cast.
A lot is about the landscape itself; hills, woods, single trees, hedgerows, village greens, lanes, becks and rocks, with flowers getting the most attention.
The weather, temperature, what the sky looks like, what a day feels and smells like – the author is very good at that, and more often than not, I fully understood what she meant.
Other elements are too typical of the author’s day and age for me to really relate to them, such as the taking for granted of children having to work (hard) for a living or the way society’s conventions restrict people’s lives.
Still, it was a quiet, largely enjoyable read, but not one I would highly recommend, in spite of the writer having been very popular in her time.
Monday, 21 August 2023
Last week, only one day was under 30C/86F (Tuesday at 29C); all the other days we saw the thermometer reach 30 and beyond. It was mostly humid, too, making the heat harder to bear, and there were several thunderstorms. But it was mid-August, after all - so neither a big surprise nor anything to complain about.
Sad news on Monday (August 14): One of the lovely cats in the same house as my Mum (they are my Mum's friend's; she lives on the ground floor, my Mum in the attic flat) was run over by a lorry right in front of the house. Thankfully, neither my Mum's friend nor Mum saw it happening, but a neighbour across the street did. He said the lorry was speeding well past the limit and did not slow down at all, probably completely unaware of what happened. At the allowed speed, the driver maybe would have spotted the cat, and poor beautiful loveable Keks (cookie) would still be alive. The only consolation is that it was all over in an instant (and I suppose we all know how daft cats can sometimes be around cars, trying to dash across at the last possible moment).
The day was too hot for much activity, with a thunderstorm in the afternoon bringing hail the size of hazelnuts. It cleared up just before sunset, allowing for a short walk of 45 minutes around the neighbourhood, where I met a very friendly grey cat.
Keks ("cookie") in his garden. He loved being around his Human and feline companion and was very affectionate.
As it was not too hot and humid that afternoon (29 C/84.2F), I walked home from Zuffenhausen, enjoying the fresher air on the fields as opposed to in town.
|No pictures from the fields this time, but this disused industrial brick chimney not far from my house where flowers grow out of the brickwork at great height.|
|I was waiting for the rainbow to appear...|
|...and was not disappointed!|
|My supper that day: Omelette, avocado, a slice of bread with creamy cheese & chives, and a glass of chilled tomato juice.|
|Glass empty :-(|
|Glass full :-)|
|My Mum enjoying a dry white|
|The band "Resonance" with my class mate at the far right.|
|Ludwigsburg's market square a few minutes after sunset.|
After finishing work and cleaning my flat, I packed my little red suitcase and headed to the train station. With only a 10 minute delay, I arrived in Offenburg, where O.K. picked me up. We enjoyed our supper on the balcony and stayed out long after dark, looking at the stars.
It was above 30C again on Saturday, but in the morning, the balcony was still in the shade, and so it was the best place for our first coffee. Some jobs in the house (for me) and outside (for O.K.) needed doing before we set everything up in the courtyard for a family BBQ. The six of us (O.K.'s parents, his sister and her husband, O.K. and I) enjoyed the salads, crusty bread, sausages and meat along with cool drinks.
On Sunday (August 20) early afternoon, we were invited at friends of O.K.'s who live in a village only a 15 minute drive away, but have never met me (and that's us having been together now for 7 1/2 years).
Outside their house in the shade of the open porch/barn, they served iced coffee and home-made creamy cakes decorated with their own raspberries - very summerly, and very pleasant. We sat and chatted for longer than intended, and so our supper back at O.K.'s cottage was a little later than usual, with hardly any daylight left on the balcony. O.K. grilled what meat (beef steak) and sausages (spicy merguez eaten with a dollop of harrissa) we had not eaten on Saturday and made a tomato-mozzarella salad to go with it.
It would have been nice to do some stargazing again, but as usual, Monday morning meant an early start for both of us, and so we went to bed as soon as we'd cleared up the kitchen and the BBQ things.
The hottest week (or maybe second hottest?) of this summer was over.
Wednesday, 16 August 2023
Last weekend was very warm, if not to say hot, and humid.
On Friday (11th of August), the thermometer reached 30 C (86 F), but it remained sunny and dry throughout.
|Unusual cloud formation we spotted on our way to the supermarket|
|Early supper on Friday evening...|
|...with home-baked plum cake from O.K.'s Mum for dessert.|
We go there every year, and as it runs a full two weeks and is only a 10 minute walk from my house, repeated visits are possible. I have written about it a few times on my blog; for instance in 2018, the year I turned 50.
As we approached the Weinlaube, the hum of voices became a buzz. The court behind the city hall was packed - it was only the 2nd night of the fest, and it seemed like at least half of Ludwigsburg's 94,000 inhabitants were there, plus visitors and tourists :-D
It was the kind of situation where you need to be in the mood for crowds, or just turn round and go home (or elsewhere). We stayed, got ourselves something to drink and spent the evening people watching, talking, "making friends" (it is amazing how friendly and chatty perfect strangers can become at such occasions) and having fun when the live band started to play.
|The wine fest logo is projected on the back of the city hall.|
|We were at the side of the stage with a good view of the band.|
We stayed until the music ended, and came through my front door at 1:01 am.
It was my Mum's 79th birthday on Saturday, the 12th of August. For the first time since her 16th, she had to celebrate without my Dad. I imagine it was not easy emotionally, but she was happy to be surrounded by friends and family. 14 of us met for a leisurely lunch at a farm shop/restaurant on the outskirts of Ludwigsburg, where we have been on several occasions (the last time before this was after the two funerals of my Dad and friend R in October and November).
The food was good and conversation flowed freely, but an approaching thunderstorm made us move inside from our outdoor tables. Once the rain stopped, most of the guests made their way home, but a small group of us gathered in the beautiful garden of Mum's friend who lives on the ground floor in the same house as she. One more drink and nibbles, and then we, too, called it a day and went home for a late afternoon nap before it was time for a light supper and a quiet night in.
Sunday brought a mix of sun and rain; it was still hot and humid, not inviting for much activity. For our breakfast, I went to the bakery 10 minutes from where I live to get fresh rolls and croissants. After multiple checks of satellite images and weather forecast, we decided on an afternoon walk in town, ending up with about 10 km under our belts and only a few drops of rain having reached us, hardly worth mentioning.
|Our fields and gardens are so much greener again after frequent rain.|
At home, a brief nap followed by coffee was next, then I did a spot of ironing before it was time to cook. My sister had given me green and yellow beans from her allotment, and I made them with spuds and goulash. We paired this with a red wine I had been given for my birthday from O.K.'s sister - only a small glass for each of us, followed by an espresso, since O.K. was driving home that same evening.When he left around 20 past 8, I knew I had 40 minutes before sunset, and went for a short walk around the neighbourhood. It was beautiful in the evening light, and did me good after the meal; just right to end this summer weekend.
|View from my Third Room (study/office).|
Saturday, 12 August 2023
|Apples ripening in the sun|
After almost two hours of walking, I was not too keen on walking another hour back to Freiberg on a hungry stomach, but I did not seem to have much choice. To add variety, I chose not to walk back on the same path, but try different paths where I'd not been before. It was enjoyable, but I must admit I was quite glad to reach Freiberg station, and even more glad to be home - it was 9:00 pm by now, and I had not eaten since my lunch break.
|Part of my unplanned extra hour of walking|
|A path I had never walked before|
|View from my kitchen window at 6:17 in the morning|
|On the way back up from the lake towards the suburb Eglosheim|
|Asperg, seen from a different perspective|
|I liked how the setting sun was lighting up the power lines.|
|I had my confirmation at this church at 14, and sang in the choir for a few years.|