Friday, 8 September 2017

Flowers and Pumpkins

Ludwigsburg in itself does not have anything to do with pumpkins, but for the past 20 years or so, a pumpkin exhibition has been held every autumn at the palace grounds. I have posted pictures of it for the past few years; you can find them all if you simply put "pumpkins" in the search box at the top left corner of my blog.

Speaking of the top left corner of my blog - look a little further down, and you'll find a clickable picture that takes you straight to my Mum's Etsy Shop, where she sells her hand-knitted socks, mittens, woolly hats and other things. Now that the colder season is quickly approaching (and can already be felt here in the mornings and evenings), maybe you'll want to stock up on warm, cosy things  for yourself or as a present :-)

Back to topic! This year's pumpkin exhibition opened last Friday. On the Saturday, we went to have a look - not specifically for the pumpkins, but because we wanted to have a walk in the palace grounds. The flowers are still beautiful this time of year, but definitely look different now from what it was like only a few weeks ago:

Further on we walked, and arrived at that part of the park where the pumpkin exhibition is set up. This year's theme is "Rome".

This one is for Kay!

We continued our walk by crossing the busy road that separates the two parks (palace grounds and the deer park) and took the long, pleasant detour home through the deer park.

No deer was to be seen this time, but the mufflon sheep were enjoying the afternoon sun and green grass on the meadow in front of the game keeper's house.

It was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and all within walking distance.

Tomorrow, I am travelling to O.K.'s. I will be away from home for two weeks and won't be as regular in reading and commenting on your blogs as usual, as I do not like to do much reading and typing on my mobile phone.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

One Stage, Six Countries

In my previous post, I told you we went to France to attend the Festival du Houblon, a festival dedicated to music and dance from five continents. We only caught a few hours of what goes on in the town of Haguenau for almost a whole week, and did not get to see and hear groups from all five continents, but what we did see was amazing and wonderful.

My photos can of course only give you a poor impression of the whirl of colours and sounds, but you are also spared the hot, humid air in the hall and getting stuck to a plastic chair for hours ;-)

If you want to know more about the groups, simply click back one post, follow the link to the festival's website and there, go to the page about the musicians and groups - they provide links to youtube videos from each group there.

I particularly liked some of the ladies' costumes and just wish I had better photos to show you. All music was played live by their own accompanying bands.

Here they are! First, a group from Uruguay:

Next was a group of Swabian folk dancers, dressed in traditional costumes of various towns (not all of them wearing the same costumes). In traditional Swabian peasant's dances, there is quite a lot of cheerfulness, but in comparison to what the preceeding group from South America had been showing, it all looked rather tame. Still, they are traditions in their own right, and not be esteemed any less for just being different.

An Italian group of drummers and flag spinners were very impressive - even though their fanfare trumpets (not sure whether this is the right term for their brass instruments) were rather out of tune. Of course them wearing my favourite colours of yellow and light blue was an extra bonus!

Bulgaria followed:

Bolivia started off with a somewhat scary dance of masked dancers:

But I really, really liked those skirts and blouses the ladies wore:

They ended their performance with a warrior dance:


The show went on; China was next, I believe, but it was already 10:30 pm and our bus was waiting to take us all back home across the border to Germany. It was a very different Saturday night for me!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Short Trip to France

Two weekends ago, I was at O.K.'s. It was his Mum's birthday on the Saturday, and by coincidence the band where his Dad plays were booked for a performance in France. So we all - parents, O.K.'s sister and her husband, O.K. and I - went along for the short trip across the border and the afternoon and evening in France.

A bus took the band with all their instruments, family and friends to Haguenau, a town of some 35,000 inhabitants. Typical for the region of Alsace, over the centuries it has changed hands several times between France and Germany. Interestingly, during its early history as a town, for a while it was under the rule of Richard of Cornwall (in the 13th century).

You can find out a lot more about Haguenau and see better pictures of the place than the ones I managed to take here on wikipedia.

We were there on the Saturday, but already all week, an international festival of music and dance had been going on in town, the Festival du Houblon. Houblon is French for hops, and hops used to play a very important role in the region. Until 1910, Haguenau was known as an international exchange for hops. It has since lost its importance for that particular produce, but the "Hall of Hops" (Halle du Houblon) is still there, and that is where we spent the evening, listening to "our" band and of course enjoying the dances and music performed by the other groups - more of that in my next post.

(More about the festival can be found here, but the website is in French and German only.)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

What August Was Like

Today is the last day of August. Can you believe September starts tomorrow? And is this the end of summer here?
Most of this month was sunny and warm, if not hot; we've had thunderstorms with hail and rain in between. Yesterday was so warm and humid, I didn't feel like going for my usual Wednesday evening run. The air felt as if you could spoon it. It rained during the night but at the moment does not feel much cooler, although it is supposed to get no warmer than 20 C (68 F) today as opposed to the 32 C (90 F) or so we had yesterday.

I guess a cool break this weekend will do us good, and apparently, we're in for beautiful late summer weather in September. We'll just have to wait and see!

August was a very busy month for me. Work picked up the moment I came back from my Yorkshire holiday, and there have been many things besides work: Three birthdays to celebrate (my Mum, a friend and O.K.'s Mum; it was his sister's birthday this month, too, but as it was during the week, I could not be there); walks and runs, barbeques, other meals and a trip to the cinema with friends, plenty of nice food and drink to enjoy. Train trips were often much longer than planned, and not always pleasant, but in the end I arrived where I wanted to be.

I took a few pictures with my mobile phone during the month. They are not brilliant but they offer some glimpses into what August was like for me.

You could easily mistake the above for a dish of plums - but they are not, they are blue potatos, grown by my Dad on my parents' allotment and cooked for me a few weeks ago by my Mum. They taste just like "normal" spuds, and they are blue throughout, not just on the outside.
The drink next to it is a very popular cocktail on Germany, and has been for years. I remember exactly where and when I had my first Aperol Spritz: At a friend's 40th birthday in February 2011. This drink was already firmly established then, but I had never tasted it before. It is based on Aperol, an Italian bitter orange liqueur. The glass is filled up with sparkling wine and soda water, some ice cubes are added and a slice of orange as garnishing. It is refreshing and not too sweet, and you can find it at nearly every bar, restaurant, festival or even beer tent here.

The above pictures were taken on the 14th of August from my office window at one of my customer's. I know you have not much to compare those hail stones to in terms of size, but trust me, they were about 3 cm or 1 inch, more or less the size of ice cubes to put in a drink!

It was so noisy we had to stop work and just watch the spectacular show out there. One of my friends who had parked her car in front of her house had it looked at for insurance claims, and it was classified as a total write-off due to it being totally covered in dents.

Torrential rain is falling as we speak, interspersed with lightning and thunder. It is 8 o'clock in the morning right now, and I shall wait a few more minutes before leaving for work.

Good-bye, August; as a month, you were very good to me!

Addendum: Here is a picture I took on August 15 from my kitchen window:

Also, in respone to comments below, my Mum told me the name of the blue spuds my Dad has planted. They are not Adirondacks, but Blaue St. Galler, "Blue from St. Gallen" - Saint Gallen being a place in Switzerland, and that is indeed where this particular kind was bred.

Speaking of my Mum, after a break of several months during spring and summer, she has now re-opened her Etsy shop (see left side bar of my blog). Just in case anyone needs warm socks or a woolly hat or mittens :-)