Monday 26 February 2024

Exhausting Week

Most of my weeks are busy, some more than others; often, the "busy-ness" is of my own choice, what with after-work activities, socialising and so on - but that does not mean I get less exhausted.

Last week, my activities were as mixed as the weather. By Friday evening, I was rather exhausted and welcoming two days of not having to get up early.

Taking my usual trains back from Offenburg on Monday (19 Feb.) morning meant the usual early start for O.K. and me; on such mornings, the alarm goes off at 5:15. 

My breakfast aboard the train.
Tentative signs of spring in my flat; I found these twigs broken off on the ground near a recently cut hedge during our Sunday walk.
All went well and I was home in time to start work at 9:30. After a quiet morning, the entire afternoon was one long online meeting with my professional association. It wasn't boring or unnecessary, just LONG with only a 15 minute break half way through to give everyone the chance to get a coffee. Of course, no walk was possible that day - it was dark by the time we finished, and I was too tired to contemplate anything else but something to eat and watching TV.

Tuesday (20 Feb.) was windy and chilly in the morning (4C/39F), but milder in the afternoon at 10C/50F. I spent my lunch break getting a hair cut (good job my hairdresser is literally just round the corner from my house) and finished work shortly after 4:00 pm. Now that sunset is considerably later than a month or two ago, I knew I had enough daylight left for my standard walk to Benningen, which I really enjoyed.

Plum tree starting to bloom - in February!!

Met this cat in the middle of nowhwere (actually, not far from a farm)

No matter what I tried, he didn't want to face the camera. Cats!
The weather was pretty much the same on Wednesday (21 Feb.), when I was working at the office. An hour before I was due to leave, my Mum texted me and my sister that our Aunt W., one of our Dad's sisters, had died that morning. She was 84 years old and had been very ill for some time; still, it came as a surprise, and although unlike my sister I wasn't really close with her, I was sad nonetheless and had a little cry in the privacy of my office.

Pastel sunrise that morning, as seen from my kitchen window.
Some time after 6:00, I left work and took a train into Stuttgart, where I was meeting a group of fellow Privacy Officers at a restaurant for informal exchange. This particular group meet once a month, but I went for the first time. It was nice and the food really good, but I am not going to join them every month - a few times a year will be enough.

My fried mushrooms with herbs came on a bed of roast spuds with Brezel crumbs - delicious!

It rained all day on Thursday (22 Feb.) and was very windy but mild at 11-12C/51-54F. For lunch, I met up with my Mum and her friend R at the "Vesperkirche". I posted about this particular charity project in 2012, when my Mum wrote this guestpost. Now that my Mum can't physically do the volunteer work any longer, at least we go there for a meal, and instead of the symbolic price of 1,50 € per meal, we pay 10 € and contribute in a small way.

The food was alright (you don't go there expecting a gourmet meal anyway) and the cakes for dessert were delicious. I walked there in the rain and back with only a sprinkle, so I had at least a bit of exercise on a day that was otherwise completely spent indoors.

On Friday (23 Feb.) I only worked a couple of hours early in the morning. Shortly before 10:00, my sister came to pick me up for the drive to a village about 30 km from Ludwigsburg, where we attended the funeral of a friend's mother. Never having met the deceased woman, we were there for our friend's sake, who appreciated our presence very much. Still, it was odd to sit in the small but packed church, listening to the non-religious speaker talking about a person we never met and knew very little about. 

At a quarter past 6:00 pm, the moon rose in the East - it was a lot "bigger" and more luminous really.
Back home at around 2:00 pm, I had ample time to do my weekly cleaning, shopping and get everything ready for the weekend. O.K. arrived at 8:30 pm.

Saturday (24 Feb.) was one of those days of fast-moving clouds when the light alters every few seconds. 

O.K. and I had a leisurely breakfast and then walked into town where we met my Mum and friend R at a historic palais, once belonging to an infamous (= unpopular) mistress of Duke Eberhard Ludwig, the founder of Ludwigsburg. Of course the building changed hands and use several times; it was lovingly restored to re-create some of its original character and is now the administrative seat of the Ludwigsburg Festival, an annual series of events spanning everything from theatre to opera to ballet to concerts.

They were having an Open House Day, and the offer of a guided tour with a historian was what we were most interested in. 

Grand staircase, heavily altered but still looking impressive.

Largest of the reception rooms, spanning the entire length of the upper floor.

One of the offices that used to be a smaller reception room.

Another office.

Manager's office. Not sure I would want to work surrounded by such vivid walls all day, every day.

After the tour and listening to live music from a (really good!) jazz trio, O.K. and I crossed the road to the palace grounds while my Mum and R walked the short distance to the shopping mall where my Mum had not been in a long time.

Back home from our walk in the park, O.K. and I had a little rest before I made dinner. Later, we watched a biopic about J.K. Rowling, "Magic Beyond Words".

Another luminous moonrise

The same view zoomed in

About two hours later, the moon was high up in the sky. To the naked eye, it looked perfectly round with a very clean-cut rim, not as fuzzy as my picture.

Because we had gone to bed relatively early the night before, we were up early-ish on Sunday (25 Feb.). It was mild, windy and sunny again, and after a brunchy breakfast with scrambled eggs, we set off to a walk along the top of the vineyards above the river valley to Marbach.

View from the footbridge to the railway bridge across the Neckar

A short stroll in Marbach's picturesque old town followed, with a little rest and coffees in a sunny spot, before we took the train back to Ludwigsburg. 

One stop before ours, it was announced that the train was stopping here for an unspecified time, "thanks" to people on the tracks. We did not feel like waiting without knowing how long for, and got off the train to walk the rest of the way. All in all, we had around 15.5 km under our belts that day - exhausted, but happy.

For our Sunday dinner, I cooked pasta and made a salad of baby spinach leaves, feta and tomatoes. O.K. left at 8:30 pm and was home in well under two hours. I am always relieved to get his "I'm home" message on those Sunday nights!


  1. What a busy week, Meike! I could never keep up with you! I love your photos especially the ones of the pretty blooms!

    1. My late husband used to say to me "You never stop", and I guess he was right in a way.
      Those spring flowers and blossoms on the hedges and trees are so beautiful! I enjoy all seasons, but spring is special, isn't it.

  2. Sorry to hear about you Aunt W.
    I think that having a long-distance relationship can be tiring. I have several experiences of them, both myself and close family, and all had their stresses

    1. Thank you, Tasker.
      Yes, our trips back and forth nearly every weekend certainly mean both O.K. and I have to fit in most of what we need/want to do during the week and can't leave it until the weekend when we're either not at our own home or want to spend as much time as possible with each other. It can be challenging at times, but after 8 years, we are used to it. Every time something goes wrong with the trains or O.K. gets stuck in traffic on the motorway, we wonder how much longer we're going to do that - but right now, neither of us is going to move away from our families.

  3. I always enjoy a tour around historical buildings... :) And you're lucky to have the palace grounds so close to where you live! As usual, spring is so much further along where you live... Myself I'm just excited to have spotted a few snowdrops in a couple of different places over the past week!

    1. I love glimpses behind the scenes... normally, the manager's office (or the other offices in that building) is not open to the public, and you'd only get to see the large reception room when attending a concert or event of some sorts.
      You're right, spring is always further along in my part of the world than in yours, but it is particularly early this year. I just hope we won't see severe frost and icy rain by the time the orchards and vineyards are in bloom, and the little birds in their nests.

  4. My father used to say that wasted time is a wasted life and yours is certainly full.

    1. It is, L, sometimes more than I like - but then it wouldn't be "me", would it, if I weren't on the go most of the time.