Friday, 17 November 2017

Some Autumn Colours

October was mostly a good month here with plenty of sunshine and little rain. The pictures in this post were all taken with my phone, and therefore are a bit of a mix, not all from the same day or situation, but I still wanted to share them with you.

October 2, early afternoon near O.K.'s village:

October 12, 7:45 on my way to work, on the footbridge at Ludwigsburg's railway station. This beautiful sunrise was a lot more impressive in reality, but I guess you'll get the idea:

October 14, hiking with O.K. between vineyards and the Black Forest, starting at around 4:00 pm:

As you can tell, it was a long hike - a little longer than planned, but I enjoyed every minute of it! The next picture was taken just after 7:00 pm:

It was really dark by the time we reached the car again. This is the view towards Offenburg from where we were walking, at 8:00 pm:

 October 17, at around 6:30 pm, walking home from work across the fields:

October 30, just after lunch, back at O.K.'s:

You have already seen some of these (or very similar) views on my blog, but they are never exactly the same, and I just can't get enough of them.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Read in 2017 - 36: Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree

Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree
M.C. Beaton

My Mum and I are both fans of this series, and so its 28th volume was a "must" for us. As soon as my Mum had ordered and received the book, she gave it to me to read first; I put other books I was reading aside for it and made sure my Mum did not have to wait too long until I'd finish and she could read it, too.
With all that, I completely forgot to write a review and post it here!
So, actually, this is not in strict order of reading, but the total number is still correct.

Before this new book, our last literary encounter with Agatha Raisin took place in October 2016. What I wrote then was partly true once again:

It took me a while to get re-acquainted with M.C. Beaton's storytelling pace and unfrilly style. But soon I was fully immersed in Agatha's world again.
We meet Agatha mostly true to her old form: wondering about her relationship with Charles Fraith, dealing with the frustration of dead ends and red herrings in her murder investigation, and coming across a set of characters often turning out to be somewhat different from what she first thought (men including).
Of course, as in all her stories, she has a romantic interest, but unlike in the earlier books, she sees through him and loses interest rather quickly. In another new character, she makes a friend, and that was someone I really liked; I was afraid the new friend was going to turn out to be the culprit. I am not going to tell you any more about this, though, as I do not want to spoil it for you, in case you want to read the book yourself.

Something I noticed - and I wonder if other readers felt the same - was a slight shift in the way Agatha is portrayed.
Before, she always used to be reliably grumpy, and her looks were described consistently as having good legs and glossy brown hair, but fighting a constant battle against an expanding waistline, and trying very hard to please (by her looks) whoever she had a romantic interest in.
Now that Agatha Raisin has made the transition to a successful TV series, where she is very different from what I imagined her by reading the books, I find that maybe M.C. Beaton is trying to gradually adapt her literary heroine to the image of the TV character.
No mention of brown hair anymore (the TV actress is blonde), but instead we frequently read about her good figure and attractive curves (both true for the TV actress).
They are only very small instants and nuances; not much to really put my finger on, but I wonder whether we are slowly going to see a different Agatha Raisin emerge, one that is more like the TV character and less like the old familiar one from the pages.

Anyway, it was a fun read!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Old and New Favourites

My last fashion post is a long time ago - the last time I posted anything clothes-related at all was more than four months ago! Does this mean I have all of a sudden become less shallow? I'm afraid not. I still really like clothes, and can not resist getting something new every now and then.

Have I bragged about the yellow dress (my third!) I bought earlier this year? I can not remember! Anyway, here it is; it was still warm enough for wearing it in September, and it is good enough to be worn at the office and elsewhere:

My latest acquisitions are two knit dresses*. I love knit dresses! These two only differ in colour, as you can see. They are a mix of cashmere, viscose and some other fibres; very, very suft and really lovely on the skin, cosily warm without making you sweat, and I love how simple they are. The fawn one I have already had in the washing machine; no problem at all. That's the advantage of the mix - a 100 % cashmere one would not have been so forgiving.

Winter has not yet fully begun, but it is already cold enough for me to wear gloves and a coat. Right now, I very much like my warm woolly things. But I know I will reach the point where I won't want to see any more woolly things - usually some time in February or early March. Until then- happy late autumn and early winter to all of you!

*Guess where I found them, and what I paid!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Read in 2017- 35: The Fairyland of Science

The Fairyland of Science 
Arabella Burton Buckley 

To summarise this book, let me quote you from its introduction: 
"Most of you probably look upon science as a bundle of dry facts, while fairy-land is all that is beautiful, and full of poetry and imagination. But I thoroughly believe myself, and hope to prove to you, that science is full of beautiful pictures, of real poetry, and of wonder-working fairies; and what is more, I promise you they shall be true fairies, whom you will love just as much when you are old and grayheaded as when you are young". 

I have mentioned before that I very much like to alternate my reading between fiction and non-fiction. Especially after an overly sweet romance, I need something more substantial, just as I do not want to live exclusively on chocolate, but enjoy a good bacon buttie or crackers with cheese very much. 

This book was a mixture of both - it was sweet in parts, but substantial enough. Aimed at a young audience and first published in 1879, it basically is a collection of lectures given by the author herself. 
There are 10 lectures, divided into "weeks", which makes me believe they were really held from one week to the next. The lectures seem to have taken place in London, and some of their contents are very England-centered. 

In the wikipedia entry about the author it says that the book "puts her views of science in a children's book setting, much like a mother educating her child." 
To give you an idea of the lectures, some of their titles are "Sunbeams, and the Work They Do", "A Drop of Water on its Travels" and "The Life of a Primrose". 
Experiments were part of most lectures and are described well enough to imagine them being performed in front of you by a Victorian lady in a classroom with wooden desks, equipped with quills and inkpots. 
I am not sure whether this is Arabella Buckley, but this picture came up when I googled her, and in relation with correspondentans of Charles Darwin.

Arabella Buckley lived from 1840 to 1929. She had an unusual life for a woman of those days; first, because she worked with a scientist as his secretary and assistant (by no means a typical occupation back then) and second, because she married at the age of 44 - which in those days was considered rather old. Through her work for Charles Lyell, she was also acquainted with Charles Darwin and exchanged many letters with him. 

I enjoyed reading this book, always keeping in mind the time it was written in, and who it was written for.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Wrapping Up

...our September holiday, that is. Yes, I know, it is November already, and October was a very busy month. Which is why I am somewhat behind with posting, but as I so often comment on other blogs when their owners apologise for long gaps, blogging should be a pleasure and not a burden. If you don't have the time or inclination, simply don't post - there will be another day when you have both.

Here are a few more pictures from Zurich and the Black Forest, plus a video which I hope you will be able to see. It sort of "stutters" when I try to play it, but maybe it is different on your computers. All pictures and the video are courtesy of O.K.

Zurich panoramas:

You have seen those rocky walls in my posts about Wutach gorge before, but now you can see how large those rocks were compared to a person:

Well, that's our September holiday finally wrapped up!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Still Catching Up: A September Walk

The 24th of September was not only Election Day in Germany. It was also, after a very foggy start, a beautiful sunny day. I had returned from my September holiday with O.K. (you have seen almost all the pictures from our time in Zurich and hikes in the Black Forest) the day before and was now using the weekend at home for catching up with things like washing, ironing and other householdy stuff. My sister suggested a walk, and walk we did!

We drove a short distance to a place we knew very well, and walked from there. Two years ago in November, we walked there, too, and it was a beautiful sunny day then as well. You can see the pictures and compare them to this year's pictures, if you like; click here and here for the 2015 posts. As autumn had been doing its work on the landscape for several more weeks back then, there were a lot more colours than this time - but it was still a beautiful walk, still very green at the end of September.

Near this wall we put our coats on the ground and had a picnic - courtesy of my sister, who had prepared sandwiches for both of us, which was a most welcome and lovely surprise.

Eventually, we made our way back through the woods, trying out different paths from before, until we reached the parking lot again. It was early afternoon, still plenty of time to go voting.
The rest of that Sunday I spent quietly at home, getting ready for the last week of September and then October - this year, a very busy time for me work-wise. And now, a glimpse at the calendar tells me that in only 3 weeks' time, our Christmas Market will open! Work is still very busy (and will remain so until at least the end of January), but I am looking forward to all my pre-Christmas activities already.

And of course, right now I am looking forward to spending another weekend at O.K.'s - I'm off to catch the train in about 2 1/2 hours.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Autumn Food

Maybe you have reached the post-Halloween stage where you do not wish to see another pumpkin for the next 11 months; if that is the case, do not read any further but skip this post entirely :-)
But maybe you are like me and either do not "do" Halloween, or you do, but still like pumpkins for food.
In that case, I have a recipe for you that O.K. and I very much liked a few weeks ago. It was fun to make and made for a really good meal, and - like all good recipes - can be adapted to what you prefer or have at home.

You need
- two pumpkins of the sort "Sweet Dumpling"
- minced meat and everything else to make a thick sauce Bolognese
- some grated cheese
- a hot oven
- enough time

Start by making a sauce bolognese. If you are vegetarian or do not have/want minced meat, you can make any other kind of sauce. What is important for this dish is to have something that is thick enough to work as a filling for the pumpkins.

While your Bolognese (or any other sauce) is simmering away, prepare the dumplings by cutting off the tops and hollowing them out. Not too much - you really want all that goodness inside. The seeds etc. should come out easily.
Oh, and do not forget to turn the oven on, so that it can pre-heat while you are busy with the pumpkins.

Once the sauce is ready, fill the pumpkins with as much as will go in. You may press down a bit; the pumpkin is firm enough to hold it.

Put the covers on top and stick the whole thing into the oven, which by now should be hot enough.

After about an hour, take the dish out and the lids off the pumpkins. They should look more or less like this:

Grate some cheese on top, leave the lids off and put everything back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts.

It should more or less look like this when you cut the pumpkins in half:

It may not look like a huge portion, but believe me - we were full with one half each! Of course you can eat with this whatever you feel like; salad, bread, or simply nothing (as we did).

The sweet dumpling has a very nice aroma, a bit like a mix of potato, sweet potato and chestnut. It can handle hot stuff very well, so don't be shy on the spices. You can eat it "as is"; no need to peel it.

It was our first time eating this type of pumpkin; the orange Hokkaido is very common here in shops and supermarkets, but we'd not had Sweet Dumplings before. But we liked this so much that I guess it wasn't the last time, either!