Monday 4 March 2024

Last of February, First of March

Last week saw the transition from winter (or what passes for it these days in my area) to spring, at least according to the meteorological calendar. I made a surprising discovery and went on a good long walk, but unfortunately spent the weekend without O.K.

In the course of Monday (26 Feb.), the weather changed from rain to sun, and it was rather mild at 10-11C/50F. Maybe you remember how my sister and I used to go for after-work walks nearly every day during the pandemic, but in all of 2022, we had little chance for that with my sister caring for R (who died in November of that year) and both of us going to see our Dad in hospital nearly every day for weeks. 

Much as I don't mind at all (and sometimes prefer) walking on my own, I missed our regular walks together and was happy to meet my sister after work that day. All in all, including the 15 minutes it takes me to get from my place to hers, I was out and about for 2 1/4 hours. 

We spotted one cat who did not want to have anything to do with us and later, a couple (probably siblings) of young-ish cats who were VERY interested but cautious at the same time. Had we spent more time with them, I am sure we'd have befriended them, but we wanted to get on.

Tuesday (27 Feb.) was a little cooler, completely grey and very windy, which made it feel quite chilly at times. My old school friend and I had arranged to meet at the entrance to the palace grounds, but our aim was not a stroll in the park. Instead, we walked up to the complex of offices of a building society and insurance company that has been around in our area for more than a century, with one of its two main firms even going back as far as 1828.

That complex of offices was started in the 1950s with more blocks added to it until well into the 1980s. A few years ago, the old buildings were deemed not worth renovating, and the company built what they call their "campus", a brand new site just a few paces down the road, abandoning the old buildings.

Now that nearly everyone who works there has moved to the new blocks, the old ones stand empty - but as we all know, space is precious, especially in a densely built-up and highly industrialised area such as Ludwigsburg. Plans were called for to give the old place a new lease of life, and those plans were introduced to the public with the opportunity to hand in suggestions and objections. My friend and I wanted to see the plans and models for ourselves, and spent an interesting couple of hours at the exhibition showing the drafts, with experts present to ask questions and give our feedback to.

I worked at the office on Wednesday (28 Feb.) and went to see my Mum after work. She made us a delicious snack of savoury bakes and a fresh salad.

Thursday (29 Feb.) was my 2nd day at the office that week. It was sunny throughout, and knowing I was not going to have a chance for an after-work walk, I extended my lunchbreak by about half an hour and crossed the footbridge from the office building to the fields. A few minutes later and the woods begin, and I had enough time to explore a part where I'd never been before.

Imagine my surprise and delight to come across a small cluster of old buildings, one of them a beautiful wooden pavilion with a golden pheasant on top!

A board next to it informs the interested reader of it being the former pheasantry, originally built in 1818. Back then, this part of Germany had only recently become a kingdom (it was a duchy before), and the new king who was a passionate hunter (weren't they all in those days) now wanted to hunt in style, worthy of a king.

Pheasants were popular game for hunting, but there were nowhere near enough of them in the wild to satisfy the king and his court's want for shooting. Therefore, a farm in the woods was built. Pheasant eggs were collected from the fields and placed with domestic turkey hens for brooding. The hatchlings were well fed and cared for until old enough to satisfy the hunters' wish for big birds, and then systematically released into that part of the woods only to be killed equally systematically.

This kind of "sport" was neither new nor unusual; for centuries, the high and mighty of this world have applied similar methods to satisfay their blood thirst.

Anyway - the buildings are in a beautiful "rustic" style of the time, some of them being used as offices for the Forestry Administration of Stuttgart. The largest of the buildings stands empty and has very much a "lost place" feel.

Lost Place par excellence

The pavilion is the prettiest part of the ensemble. Back in the hunting days, the ladies (who generally did not hunt) whiled away the hours in there until the men came back; then, a sumptous meal (probably including roast pheasant) was served.

Now the wooden structure could really do with some sanding down and a lick of paint, but the golden pheasant at its top still gleams in the sunshine.

In spite of the peeling paint, one can imagine the former glory of the pavilion, decorated with acorns and oak leaves around the rim of the roof.

Walking back towards my office in the long white building.

On Friday (1st of March), O.K. (who had been nursing a cold all week) felt bad enough for us to cancel my plans to spend the weekend at his place.

All morning of that day I attended an online seminar about AI - stuff I need to know for work, but also find interesting apart from work. Some of the explanations given about what AI can do (and what not), and how it works, were really good. I plan to write a post about it soon, having in mind fellow bloggers Monica's and Neil's adventures with image creators.

Being home alone on Saturday (2nd of March) meant I could spontaneously meet my sister for breakfast at our favourite café in town. A stroll across the market followed, and since it was the 1st Saturday of the month, a sale of used books in aid of the church was going on behind the church.

Although I didn't "need" anything, of course I had a look... and went home with 8 paperbacks by two authors I like (Anne Perry and Martha Grimes). They were 1 Euro each, and once I have read them, I will return them to be sold again.

My spoils!
On market days, there is always (I think) a 15 minute organ concert at the church, free for all, donations welcome. As it happened, it was just gone 11:00 when we finished buying books, and the concert had only just begun. (By the way, it was the same church and same organ you can see in this post.)

It was nice to see the church well filled, and we quietly listened to the organ being expertly played for the next 10 minutes or so - a good way to counter-balance the hustle and bustle of the busy market. I must remember to go there again with O.K. some time.

I went home after that, had a sandwich and a bit of a rest before setting off again at 1:30 pm. A local train took me to Marbach, where I started on what you may remember as my Mum and my favourite walk together when my parents still had their allotment.

The way to the allotment, then on to the woods and eventually back to Marbach in a large loop meant walking for a solid 4 hours. This time of year is just wonderful in the sunlit woods, birdsong all around, small flowers everywhere. I spotted two deer in a field, saw several buzzards circling and at one time a large heron flew overhead.

Oh Steinheim in the sun... (sung to the tune of "Island in the Sun")

It wasn't as dark as it looks here on my way back to Marbach, but I arrived at the train station there shortly before sunset.
About 3 hours into the walk I rested on a bench, eating the sandwich I had brought and drinking half of my water bottle.

It had been chilly in the morning at 3C/37F, but the sunny day rose to an impressive 15C/59F in the afternoon - not totally unheard of for my area at the beginning of March, but unusual.

On Sunday (3rd of March), I spent a quiet morning at home and then went to my Mum's for the afternoon. The friend whose mother's funeral my sister and I had attended last Friday was coming for coffee & cake, with his partner. The four of us had a chatty afternoon and early evening together, with my Mum serving a delicious chili sin carne.

Over the weekend, O.K. and I talked every day, sometimes only briefly because he really wasn't well and especially on the Saturday could hardly speak. Respiratory viruses are spreading left, right and centre, and it was much better for him to be on his own this time. Hopefully, next weekend I can travel - train strikes are starting on Thursday, and I may have to find alternative transport.


  1. Oh, I love coming across lovely blooms when on a hike! Your photos are great and I enjoyed the golden pheasants, too. Sorry that O.K. wasn't feeling well and hope he recovers soon.
    I love Anne Perry and have read all of her books, I think. Martha Grimes is new to me, tho, so I will try some of hers at my library. I do enjoy mysteries! Thanks!

    1. You are welcome, Ellen, and thank YOU for taking the time to read my long weekly posts and commenting!
      O.K. is not really better yet; those respiratory viruses keep people coughing for weeks, as one of my colleagues was told by her doctor :-(
      If you start on Martha Grimes' Inspector Jury series, I recommend you read them in order; the stories are stand-alone, but you'll understand a lot more about the characters if you stick to their order. If you do read them, it will be fun to compare notes!

  2. Lovely to see some colourful spring flowers. (I've still only seen snow drops here.) 4 hours is a very long walk, I could not manage that. I know I've read at least one Martha Grimes in the past (there's one title in my bookshelf, but I think I may have borrowed one or two more from the library - long time ago, before Kindle and Audible.). Anne Perry does not ring any bell - I'll look her up.

    1. I believe I came across my first Anne Perry by chance, finding it among the paperbacks on the shelf in a hotel in Austria during our hiking holiday in September 2017 or so. The characters were instantly likeable to me, and the Victorian setting so well described that I read it through in nearly one single afternoon.

    2. As for Martha Grimes, I was hooked on her Inspector Jury series from the first book I read, many years ago - I believe I still lived at home, still worked at the library myself, years before ebooks and smartphones appeared.
      When I'll get started on that pile from last Saturday, I will make sure to read them in the correct order; maybe I know them (or at least some) alreaedy, but it's been so long and back then I only had access to them in German, so it will be like reading a new book :-)

  3. March is just the month for discovering a lost cluster of beautiful wooden buildings.
    I have been looking at Westerton village in the north of Glasgow, an Arts & Crafts
    development, designed for another age by architect John W.A. Grant.
    The houses up a hill, so much an icon of my childhood, are unique, though
    there may be a similar development south of the river, in Giffnock or Clarkston.
    Grant may have been responsible for the (Art Deco) Fountainbridge Library which
    stands on the corner of Dundee Street and Murdoch Terrace in Edinburgh.

    Monday here was miraculously sunny with a perfect blue sky, but Tuesday was
    dull and drizzly, typical Scottish weather.
    I watched a Dutch YouTuber, Leonine, who decided to make a trip alone to
    Edinburgh, the Gothic city of her dreams.
    She had an iconic view of Arthur's Seat from the skylight window of her hotel.
    The Book Leo : YouTube. She always has me laughing.

    1. Any kind of settlement that has been designed (as opposed to "grown naturally") fascinates me, such as the village of Ripley near Ripon, with its buildings meant to look like a French village (I have been in a few French villages but can't see the similarity, to be honest).

      The buildings I discovered in the woods are made of stone, with sandstone facades; only the pavilion with the golden pheasant on top is made of wood. I am certainly going to go there again, maybe on a summer evening after work when there is long enough daylight for a walk further on in those woods.

  4. Why did I think that these handsome buildings were made of wood ?
    I was not looking properly. Ruskin said that to see clearly is the hardest thing.
    Can sandstone look like wood in a certain light ? Probably not.
    The finest timber went into making the pavilion. It was a delightful discovery.
    I will look at Ripley on YouTube; the French village idea is a beguiling one. Thanks.
    I noticed a copy of the novel Bedford Square on your book table.
    London squares, parks, museums, churches, Victorian pubs and old bookshops
    delighted my sister-in-law, who moved from Japan to L.A. with her parents as a child.
    She has become a recluse since my brother's death and rarely leaves her home in
    Bel Air.
    *The TIMELESS Bedford Square.* London Visited. YouTube.
    *The Hidden Bloomsbury Connection. * John Rogers. YouTube.

  5. I hope you can fully enjoy travel in early spring. You will see lots of changes in nature and happy people living in their ways.

    1. It is a wonderful time of year to be out walking, or even just watching the countryside from the window of a train. I did both today 😊