Monday 27 November 2023

Rainbow Week, Music Weekend

This past week was very busy but also very good. You will see why in a minute.

Monday (20 November) had everything from sun to rain and back to sun. 
I was working from home and took the chance for an afternoon walk to Benningen. Now that sunset is so early, if I want to get any substantial walk in by daylight, is has to be during the day - of course that is not always possible with my work schedule, but Monday afternoon was good.

For the most part of that walk which takes just under two hours, I did not need to pull up the hood on my rain coat, and for the rainy part, I was rewarded with not just one, but THREE rainbows!
Just leaving Ludwigsburg

Looking back towards Freiberg

First of three rainbows across Benningen. Can't see it?

You can now!

Number Three - I didn't get a good enough picture of the 2nd rainbow.
I worked from home on Tuesday (21 November) morning, had an early lunch break and then took a local train to Marbach, where I was due to give my last training for this year. 
Again, it was raining, but by the time I left the Literature Archive mid-afternoon, it was still grey but remained dry until the evening.
On a whim, I decided to walk back to Ludwigsburg (around 8 km), and this time chose the path along the river. 
Walking down towards the river through Marbach's old town. The "castle" like building is the old water works.

River Neckar

Vineyards and allotments line the path on one side, the river on the other.

Grey clouds and bright foliage
It was a good decision; there were only a few cyclists and the odd dog walker, but most of the time, I had the river, the path and the vineyards to myself. The atmosphere was so peaceful and quiet, with the remainder of autumn foliage lighting up the greyness; I could only wish for everyone to experience such peace at this war-torn time.

Once I arrived in Hoheneck (at the bottom of Ludwigsburg), just like last time, I took the first bus coming my way up into town, only a few minutes from where I live. It was dark by then; I had just made it to the first houses and street lamps as dusk set in.

I spent the next two days, Wednesday and Thursday (22/23 November), at the office in Weilimdorf. Wednesday morning was frosty at -2C/28F; Thursday was a tad warmer at a maximum of 6C/42F.
Thursday was also the opening of Ludwigsburg's Christmas market. You have seen many pictures of it over the years, but I still can not resist showing you more! The blurriness of my photos is due to me trying to get out of people's way; it was truly packed that evening, and I really only went for a first short stroll and my favourite Christmas market food.

O.K. and I spent the weekend separately, since he had band practice all weekend, starting on Friday after work all through to early Sunday afternoon, in preparation for their annual concert before Christmas.

Therefore, instead of doing my household jobs on Friday (24 November), I went to visit my favourite neighbour at the senior residence where she has recently moved to. She is the lady whose house and garden my kitchen window overlooks. At 91, she is still relatively mobile, and fully "there" mentally, but she has had several falls recently (fortunately, no bones broken), and her relatives have urged her not to remain all on her own any longer.
Of course, after so many years in her house, moving to a single room with shower and toilet is a huge step. But she's holding up bravely, and we had a good chat. 
It was another very windy day with a mix of rain, sun and clouds, and after the first very wet sleet fall of this season, all of a sudden the sun came out, and from her window, we saw the most luminous, brilliant and clear rainbow I had seen in a long time! (Sorry, no photo.)
Like two little kids at a toy store window, we stood there grinning, watching the rainbow until it paled. It was quite spectacular, really, and a nice moment to share with my old neighbour; her slightly subdued mood was much improved afterwards.

On Saturday (Nov. 25), I went to help my Mum with a few things after breakfast, then back home to finish my own things. At 2:00 pm, I was out again, this time to my sister's. Together, we walked the short distance across the fields to the garden centre just outside Ludwigsburg. Every year on the last Saturday before Advent, they host a combination of sales exhibition (of Advent wreaths, Christmas decorations and so on) and mini Christmas market, and every year, we go there.
A small brass band plays Christmas carols, there are mulled wine and other drinks, hot sausages or soup to choose from as well as coffee and cake. The gardener's family is big, with a large number of children, and they all do their part. Some clear the tables, others ladle soup into bowls, man the grill or pour drinks.
It is a lovely event, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours before walking home.

My sister's Christmas present came early this year: On Sunday (26 November), we went to a concert at one of the two churches facing the market square.
"The Seasons" by Joseph Haydn is an oratorio first performed publicly in 1801. If you want to know more about it, here is the link to its wikipedia entry.

The choirs, solo singers and musicians were wonderful, and our seats on the balcony perfect - great acoustics and a view of everything and everyone.
Three hours is a long time to sit still, but the music was so beautiful and the "story" is so interesting that it passed all too quickly.
A truly great present for the five of us! (Mum, sister, Mum's friend, my sister's friend and myself).

We went for a drink and some food at the pub afterwards, just across the market square. Speaking of which - the Christmas market was suspended for that evening due to it being Totensonntag ("Sunday of the Dead" or "Eternity Sunday").
The main lights were on, as you can see, but the booths and stalls were closed.

The organ was behind us.

Getting ready, about 20 minutes before the concert stared.

The church where the concert was.
During the day, I had been on my own, quietly doing this and that, resting and going for a short-ish walk in the afternoon, when it looked like it wasn't going to rain for a while.
A good week to get ready for the next four, leading up to Christmas.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Read in 2023 - 30: The Missing Ones

The Missing Ones: An absolutely gripping thriller with a jaw-dropping twist (Detective Lottie Parker Book 1)

by Patricia Gibney

In a relatively small town in Ireland, the murder of a woman in the town’s cathedral sets off a chain of events that results in several more deaths and the unearthing of terrible secrets kept under lock and key for decades.


Lottie Parker is the Inspector called to the scene, and when she finds clues that point towards a past tragedy that changed her own family forever, things become personal.

Widowed only a few years ago, she struggles enough as it is with her demanding job and not neglecting her three children.

And then there is the yellowing file of a missing boy, dating back to 1976, still at the bottom of a drawer in her desk…


I found myself not particularly drawn to Lottie as a character, but to the solving of the puzzle and the way each clue that seemed to turn up came to a dead end – at first, until at some point, everything fell into place and made sense.

The story involves horrible crimes such as systematic child abuse, abandoned babies and nameless graves in the grounds of an orphanage run by the Catholic church.

Abusive priests and destroyed lives cropped up left, right and centre – not an easy read, especially considering that we all know such things really happen(ed) on a large scale.


The relationship between Lottie and her policing partner leaves room for development; typical for the 1st book in a series.

I am not sure I will want to read more; the writer’s style is readable enough and the story really kept me guessing (sometimes, but not always, right). But I have so many other books lined up for reading, and am now ready for some lighter entertainment.

Needless to say, this was a free ebook from Amazon's kindle shop. If you want to know more about the author and her work, her website is here. In "about me", she shows a few things in common with her heroine: Just like Lottie Parker, Patricia Gibney has lost her husband way too early. And like Lottie, she has three children. Unfortunately, her website seems not to have been updated since 2019, but there has been a continuous output of books, 11 so far according to wikipedia.

Monday 20 November 2023

Rainy Week

It rained every day last week, sometimes more, sometimes less. Glimpses of sunshine were rare and it was chilly, but Sunday was very mild and sunny after a mid-morning shower.

On Monday (13 November), I had no opportunity for a walk other than the five minutes it takes me to go to Aldi's. All afternoon I spent in an online meeting, finishing only at six; it was of course dark by that time.

In between, a phonecall from my favourite neighbour (the one whose garden I see from my kitchen window) came in. We'd not seen each other in a while, and sometimes she rings for a little chat. This time, though, she called to let me know that she has now moved into a care home. She is 91 years old and had been living on her own for decades, managing quite well. Recently, she'd had several falls - none of them too bad, no bones broken -, and her relatives had discussed things with her and she decided to move there.
She is still quite mobile and won't be sitting in her room or in any of the common rooms all day, but it is good to know she's not alone now if anything happens. I will visit her soon, probably this coming Friday.
It is weird now to look out of my kitchen window at her house, knowing it stands empty - one of three in my immediate neighbourhood.

Nothing worth mentioning happened on Tuesday (14 November); I worked at the office in Weilimdorf and, for a change, all went well with my trains.

I was at the office in Weilimdorf again on Wednesday (15 November)
The first anniversary of our dear friend R's death kept me in a subdued mood all day. I had not been out for a proper walk since Sunday, and when the sun made one of its rare appearances around lunch time, I decided to leave work early, walk home from Kornwestheim and continue working from there. It did me good.
One year ago, when my sister texted me to tell me of R's death, I had been at the office, too. I left in the early afternoon then, too, walking across the fields and crying for good part of the way. It felt strange to think that a year has passed already.

My neighbour's house (left) now stands empty.

On Thursday, 16 November, I was expected in Marbach to give a training and attend a meeting. Train drivers were on strike, meaning no local trains were running. There is a regular bus service to Marbach, so I thought it wasn't going to be a problem to get there and back. However, the scheduled bus never arrived, and the next one was an hour later - much too late for my appointments. I rang Marbach and explained the situation.
The very capable secretary said "Hold on a minute - I have an idea!" and returned a moment later, telling me she was going to send their driver to pick me up! I have never before had such luxury when travelling to my clients, and enjoyed the ride as well as the chatty driver. It was similar on my way back, only with a different (but equally chatty) driver. Up until that day, I had not even known that my client has a fleet of cars and a few drivers at their disposition.

Friday (17 November) was a busy day, working from home and having my new fridge delivered and installed. I was very happy with the way the two men worked their way through everything efficiently, and gave them a generous tip. Of course there was still some cleaning and sorting left for me to do, but now I have a brand new fridge, the second since I moved into this flat 20 years ago.

O.K. arrived at about 9:15 pm.

On Saturday, 18 November, after breakfast we took O.K.'s stereo to a nearby radio shop for repair and then drove to Pforzheim (about an hour's drive) straight from there. The drive was through some beautiful countryside with autumn colours everywhere; had it not been another grey day, it would have been truly spectacular.
In Pforzheim we visited a "Martin's Market" hosted at a school. A friend of O.K.'s is a very talented and creative craftswoman, and since she was selling her things there (she lives nearby), she had invited us to come and have a look. We found nice things for Christmas, had a good look around the entire place, something to eat at lunch time followed by coffee and cake later, listened to a choir and had a chat with our friend before driving home.

Back in Ludwigsburg, we walked to my Mum's place, where we were gathering for a meal of roast goose with all the trimmings, a tradition this time of year around St. Martin's Day. We're not Catholic and do not actually "do" St. Martin's, but we have always made it an occasion for a family gathering around that time. 

We woke up to sunshine on Sunday (19 November) and went for a walk in the palace grounds after breakfast. My pictures can only partly convey how beautiful the autumn leaves were in the sunshine, and how luminous the colours. The day was windy but very mild for November at 15C/59F.

At 3:00 pm, we met with my sister at a newly re-opened café in town to test what it had on offer. I enjoyed my slice of pumpkin cake and coffee.
From there, the three of us walked together until my sister went home and O.K. and I continued for a short loop on the fields to take in the sunset.
Back at my flat, I made shakshouka for our evening meal, and we shared my last bottle of white wine which I still had from summer. 
For a change, O.K. did not have to drive home that evening (hence the wine) - he has today off. It was nice not having to say good-bye and then wait more or less anxiously for him to let me know he'd arrived home safely after the 150 km drive.

(For my family, another day to remember a loved one: 34 years ago, my granddad  - Mum's Dad - died.)

Monday 13 November 2023

First Full Week in November

Last week was the first full week in November. I worked, walked (surprise, surprise!), was with family and friends on various occasions, and witnessed some very beautiful sunrises.

Monday, the 6th of November, was rather mild at 12C/53F. There was some rain, and it was quite windy. Now that sunset is before 5:00 pm, I need to time my walks a bit differently. On that day, I did not have meetings scheduled for early afternoon, and so I extended my lunch break and walked to Benningen.

sunrise last Monday

outskirts of Ludwigsburg

barn between Freiberg and Benningen

It is November - and still some sunflowers are in bloom!
I worked at the Weilimdorf office on Tuesday (7 November), and since no rain was forecast for the afternoon, I left as early as 4:00 pm, got off the train one stop before mine and walked the rest (about 45-50 minutes) home.

sunrise on Tuesday
The day started sunny on Wednesday (8 November)

sunrise on Wednesday...

...changing rapidly
It clouded over during the afternoon but remained dry, and so my Mum and I met at the bus stop in front of the palace grounds at 5:30 pm for a visit of the "Luminous Dream Paths", a relatively new event. You can find pictures of last year and the year before on my blog.

Maybe you remember that we had intended to go there last week but then went to the pub instead, because the palace grounds were totally overcrowded. This time, there were people around but it was nowhere near as packed, and we spent a pleasant couple of hours in the palace grounds.

Emichsburg, a folly in the palace grounds, from afar

north facade of Ludwigsburg palace

view across the north garden

Here is a short video (under 2 minutes); hopefully you can view it:

 Emichsburg again, from a different angle

Temperatures dropped in the course of the evening, and for the first time this season, it was cold enough for us to see our breath. I was ready to spend the rest of the evening on my settee with a warm blanket wrapped around me :-)

Thursday, the 9th of November, was unremarkable unless you count a spectacular sunset in the morning and me buying a new fridge in the evening, to be delivered (and the old one removed) next week Friday. Walking into town (where I bought/ordered the fridge) and back was my only "walk" that day.

sunrise on Thursday

In reality, it was truly spectacular, much more brilliant and luminous than my photo!
It was a blustery day of high winds on Friday (10 November) with a fast-changing mix of sun, clouds and rain. Around lunch time, it looked stable enough for me to venture out. After less than 500 m of walking, all of a sudden and virtually out of the blue, it started to rain. It stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and I had just about enough time to take pictures of the rainbow over Ludwigsburg before it disappeared.

For the rest of my lunchtime walk, it remained dry in spite of the threatening clouds racing along in the south. Many birds were about; I counted seven herons in one field.

on the fields south-west of Ludwigsburg

back in town

November sun in my living room...

...and my bedroom.

view from my kitchen window mid-afternoon

On Saturday, the 11th of November, the last of my three trains was nearly half an hour late. I arrived in Offenburg at 1:00 pm. After a quick snack at the cottage, we did a few jobs around his parents' house to get things ready for winter and finished just as rain started to fall.

Later, we met with a friend at an Italian restaurant in town and had a pleasant evening.

The rain that had been falling most of the night stopped long enough on Sunday (10 November) to allow for a couple of hours worth walking. It was the coldest day of the week at a maximum of 4C/39F. Back at the cottage, a hot lunch followed by coffee and cake was most welcome. The afternoon was cosy with the sound of rain on the rooftop windows providing the background to our resting, reading and/or watching TV.

O.K. prepared a delicious ratatouille and couscous for our evening meal.

Sunday morning coffee with goose-shaped biscuits, made by O.K.'s Mum

Looking at the beautiful colours -especially the yellow foliage (my favourite colour!), is it any wonder I think November does not deserve the bad reputation it generally seems to have!