Thursday 7 December 2023

First Advent Week

Last week saw several Advent-related acitivies for me, and fittingly, this season's first snow that remained on the ground for a while.

Monday (27 November) was cold, wet and windy. I was working from home and did not leave the house apart from a quick stocking up of groceries at Aldi, 5 minutes from this keyboard.

Tuesday (28 November) was similar: I worked from home, went to Aldi again (on Monday, they had run out of my preferred brand of coffee, organic and fair trade certified - but it still wasn't there) and otherwise spent all day indoors. At some stage during the afternoon, the rain turned into the first light snow fall, but did not stay.

As most Wednesdays, this one (29 November) saw me on my usual two trains to the office in Weilimdorf. While we were having lunch at the canteen, the sun broke through and made for that very sharp, clear, brilliant light that often occurs against a backdrop of heavy grey clouds this time of year. Two of my colleagues went for a walk, but I had plenty to do and did not want to extend my lunch break.

The sun soon retreated, and it started to snow again.

After work, I met up with my Mum and my sister for a stroll across the Christmas market; a pleasant evening with our favourite food and drinks at the market.

This restaurant in one corner of Ludwigsburg's market square is always decorated very nicely this time of year.
Working from home on Thursday (30 November) with the first meeting only starting at 10:30 enabled me to go for a morning walk with my friend V. We'd not seen each other in a while, and so had plenty to talk about during the hour we spent together.

On the fields just outside Ludwigsburg
Friday, the 1st of December, had a nice Christmassy or Advent-ish feel about it: While I was opening the first door and the first little box of my two Advent calendars, snow started to fall, and it remained on roofs and the ground.

View from my kitchen window

View from my bedroom window; there are still khaki on the tree, but beyond my reach. 
A friend I know through my volunteer group paid me a quick visit during my lunch break to lend me the third book in Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club series. 

After work, I did my usual cleaning and then started to put up a few bits of Christmas decoration and get things ready for our annual Rubbish Secret Santa, something my "girl friends" and I have been doing for many years and greatly enjoy. The one of my friends who moved to Northern Germany around 20 years ago made the trip down here to be with us, and so I turned my Third Room (which is where I sit when working from home) into a guest room for the night.

My overnight guest arrived at 6:00 and the other ladies an hour later. Great fun was had by all! And all the time, the snow kept falling.

It still snowed on Saturday, 2nd December. Some areas of Germany had had so much snow that roads, airports and train stations were blocked. My friend had to rush to catch an alternative connection after she discovered that her original train was cancelled; she didn't even have time for coffee or a shower.

My trip to Offenburg was a little easier; one of my three trains was also cancelled, but I had enough time in the morning to do everything that needed doing, and even though I had an unplanned 45 minute stop at Karlsruhe's main station, I arrived in Offenburg with only half an hour's delay.

Main hall at Karlsruhe station

At O.K.'s, we had soup, bread and cheese for our (late) lunch and then time for a bit of a rest before we wrapped up warmly again and walked down the village road to where a small Advent market had been set up. O.K. and four of his brass band mates played Advent and Christmas songs there, and I was part of the crowd watching, listening and applauding (some sang along, too). 

After an hour of playing, O.K. and I browsed the market stalls, had some food and drink and chatted to his fellow musicians and other people until we were cold enough to return to the warm cottage.

The 1st Advent Sunday was that week's only chance to sleep in. We woke up to sun and blue sky - how wonderful to see that after what felt like a long series of grey days!

A walk along familiar paths on the outskirts of the village through vineyards and orchards felt very good.

At 3:00 pm, we crossed the road from O.K.'s cottage to his parents', for coffee, cake and cookies. Like my Mum, O.K.'s mother is very good at making delicious meals, sweet or savoury, and we enjoyed the apple pie and Christmas cookies very much.

O.K. had to leave early, since the village brass band's annual concert is coming up and an extra band practice was scheduled for the evening.

The rest of us gave a hand at washing the dishes and putting everything back in order. Back at the cottage, I prepared things for the Raclette O.K. and I had after he returned from band practice.

We spent a warm, cosy evening with just the two of us at the dining table, Raclette in the middle, sharing the food and a bottle of wine while listening to all sorts of Christmas songs on the radio.


  1. I've been recovering from Covid and so my Christmas shopping hasn't happened yet. I was lucky that my booster and anti-viral meds helped me feel better faster than I expected. I just started going out (while masked) but try to keep away from busy places.
    Sounds like you and OK are really getting into the Christmas spirit.

    1. Christmas and everything around it feels much "lighter" and more beautiful this year than last, when the two deaths of my Dad and our friend R had only just happened and our grief was still very raw.
      I am glad to know that you are on the mend! Your full recovery is much more important than any Christmas shopping.

  2. Well you seem to the in the "Christmas spirit" over there as well, with the decorations and so on... My favourite photos here are the last four, though, with the intensely blue sky - and especially the first of those, with the church tower sticking up in the background! :)

    1. That blue sky was so very welcome, Monica!
      Walking around the villages in O.K.'s hilly area, one gets views of them at various points. I find them rather picturesque with (usually) the church visible in the middle, and the houses all around it.

  3. You still seem to have got out a bit despite the weather. We managed to prune a large fruit tree yesterday (ladder needed) but otherwise, it has been miserable. My wife says she almost he mother phoning every half hour to say "isn't it dreary".

    1. It's been rather dreary, true. All the more am I glad for any chance I get to be out and catch a bit of daylight, or - even better - sunlight. We're in for a much milder but very wet few days, according to the weather people.

  4. Great photos, as always. My friend Martina would love to visit her German family at Christmastime to go to all the Christmas markets. Alas, it's a tough time of year for her to get time off work. But the markets look wonderfully inviting!

    1. The markets are nice as long as they are not too packed. I am uneasy when a crowd gets too dense, and it is always advisable to keep a tight hold on handbags (and definitely NOT do what so many seem to be doing, i.e. carrying their wallets and/or mobile phones in the back pocket of their jeans!).
      We buy very few things and mostly go for the food and drink, but the markets usually offer a good range of artisan products. Also, I often buy my Christmas cards there, and the occasional ornament for my or my Mum's tree.

  5. What a lovely view from your window - all very Christmassy!

    1. It was, wasn't it! We're now back to rain and wind, and temperatures of up to 12C, way too warm (but not entirely unusual) for December.