Friday 24 May 2024

Back to Work

Returning to work after a week or two (like in this case) usually has me start full of energy - only to feel quite exhausted by the end of the week. While I had two good after-work walks, a family BBQ on Saturday and a walk around the village with O.K. on Sunday, thunderstorms with extremely heavy rainfall caused total chaos for public transport and made for a very long journey on Friday evening.

Monday (13 May) was a mix of rain, sun, and rain again. Because there had been a Bank Holiday the previous week on Thursday, and many people took the Friday off as well, most of my customers and colleagues had not been as busy as usual. That meant there were less emails I had to deal with on my first day back than usual, and I managed to finish work at 5:00 pm.

I put out a few items from my cellar to be collected by the bin men and then went to walk for nearly two hours on the fields. 

A wonderful sunny day, pleasantly warm at 25C/77F, followed on Tuesday (14 May). After a good day working from home, I set off for my standard walk to Benningen. I have various options to get there, and meant to use one of the variations only to find that this particular path was blocked for construction work. It meant I had to go on a roundabout way, adding about 20 minutes to the normal duration of my Benningen walk. But it also meant I found a path I have never walked before, which made it all worthwile and interesting.

Wednesday (15 May) was my usual Office Day. It was mild but windy and rainy after a sunny morning. At 6:00 pm, my sister and I met at our Mum's; she made a delicious cheese quiche for the three of us.

No walk was possible on Thursday (16 May), because after work I met with my volunteer group. We managed to hold our meeting outdoors at the former industrial site (you've seen it a few times on my blog) next to the station, which had opened for the season that same afternoon. Drinks at the outdoor bar have become rather expensive, but the food truck (which will only be there occasionally) served big portions of freshly cooked food at a good price, such as a large bowl of rosemary spuds with cream cheese and chives for 5 €.

Not long after we had all gone home, a thunderstorm began, and it kept raining all night.

On Friday (17 May), I shifted my usual train journey to Offenburg forward by an hour or so, as I was sure there were going to be delays due to more passengers than normally (Pentecost Monday was a holiday, and schools were to close for the next two weeks). I was right in that there WERE delays, but not quite the way I had anticipated!

Already 10 minutes after the train left Ludwigsburg, we stopped somewhere out on the fields between Ludwigsburg and Bietigheim because of a problem with a signal box. We got going again after about 30 minutes - that in itself would not have caused too much trouble for me. But once I arrived in Karlsruhe, still considering myself lucky because I managed to catch my connection (only because that train was delayed as well), the chaos started: We were told the train couldn't leave yet and we had to wait in Karlsruhe for 15 minutes... then for 20... then for 30... 

No useful information was forthcoming via the loudspeakers or from staff, and the Navigator app came up with inconclusive and inconsistent information as well. Eventually, I made my way to a regional train that was supposed to get me to Offenburg, only to learn that it was ending in Rastatt (again, no reason was given). Right, Rastatt was closer to my destination than Karlsruhe, so I boarded that train - along with about 8 million other people (that's what it felt like).

We slowly trundled to Rastatt, where we all had to get off the train. By this time, the station building was closed, and we were all out in the rain, huddling under what little shelter there was. Information? Zero!

At some stage, a bus turned up, offering a ride to Baden-Baden - another step nearer my destination. Again, everyone squeezed in (we were all wet by then, so you can imagine the "steamy" atmosphere in the overcrowded bus), and we finally arrived in Baden-Baden. It was getting later and later, but at least the station building was open so that we could get out of the rain. But shops? Caf├ęs? Toilets? Taxis? Closed, or not available.

At around 10:00 pm, a man from the city's fire department and a lady from who knows what city department turned up with a megaphone. They informed us that they were now going to organise buses for the stranded passengers as well as handing out free water bottles. I still had water in my own bottle - during the past 5 hours, I had hardly dared to drink anything since I had no reliable access to a toilet. But knowing that all this organising would take at least another hour, I finally arranged for O.K. to pick me up. It took him about half an hour to get there, and we took along three other stranded passengers who needed to get to Offenburg.

By 11:00 pm, O.K. and I were finally at his cottage and settled down for a very late supper. Phew!

(I later learned that it had taken until midnight for the first buses to be ready in Baden-Baden. It was all due to a railway control center there having been flooded after the heavy rain.)

Saturday (May 18) was a much more relaxed day. A sunny morning was followed by a shower, then the sun came out for another bit before it started to rain again.

We did some jobs in and around the cottage and then I needed a rest; a headache had begun to form, and it didn't go away, not even after our evening meal of spaghetti with different types of pesto. By 10:30, I was ready for bed, hoping to sleep off the headache (which was not really successful).

There was no rain on Sunday (May 19), but it was windy and looked too unsettled for us to embark on a longer walk. Instead, we remained in the vicinity of the village and later met with the family on O.K.'s Mum's patio for coffee and delicious rhubarb cake (with probably the last rhubarb of this season from the allotment) and then a BBQ, which was very nice in spite of my headache never really going away and me being rather tired. 

Spot the lizard! It was a good day for them.

The parent stork didn't do me the favour to look up, he or she was too busy looking after the little ones - I hope they have survived the heavy rains; it is not unusual for baby birds to drown in their nests or die of cold when it rains all the time and they haven't got a chance to dry.
This nest is one of at least three in the village.

I blame the exhausting journey on Friday - instead of two, it took almost six hours, and I was constantly on alert as to what was going to happen next, and what alternatives I had.

[Two of the dates in this post were wrong - now corrected.]


  1. Sounds exhausting, Meike! Not the way to start your weekend! Hope the headache cleared up and you are feeling better this week. What a goofy spot to build a nest!?!

    1. I felt totally myself again the next day.
      For the stork family, it is the perfect spot - a vantage point for easy flying on and off, with nobody bothering them.

  2. What a journey! Sounds like England!
    Returning to work full of energy after a holiday is a good sign that you enjoy your job.

    1. I do enjoy my work; no day is exactly the same, and it is never boring,
      Sounds like England? My experience with trains in England has been much better than what‘s happening here.

  3. That Friday night journey sounds like a nightmare to me, Meike. I used to travel a lot by train when I was younger but in later years I haven't even dared try, as here too we hear far too often about delays and trouble like that...

    1. The heavy rain and subsequent flooding of control centers and problems with signal boxes were of course not the railway company‘s fault, but the non-information and not looking after passengers properly (for instance, they could have opened the station building in Rastatt to offer us a place where to shelter from the rain) was their fault - and typical for how such situations are handled.