Thursday, 12 April 2018

Spa Break Continued

The day after we arrived was Wednesday, the 28th of March. It was a grey day, and we did go out for a walk but took few pictures:

This was the pattern we established for ourselves for this day and the next: Sleep as long as we like, have a sumptuous and leisurely breakfast, don our walking boots and go for a walk until around lunch time, get back to the hotel, undress and put on our bathrobes (provided for by the hotel), go downstairs to the spa area, have our scheduled massages, spend the rest of the afternoon spa-ing and resting, go back upstairs to our room, get dressed properly and sit down for our three-course dinner at the hotel restaurant, accompanied by a glass of wine or two - all organic food and drink.

On the Thursday, we had less time for our after-breakfast walk plus it was looking very much like rain, so we did not move far from the village, as you can see. But it was still good to be out in the fresh air, and although the woodland had more of an autumnal atmosphere, there were signs of spring if you were looking closely enough.

St. Georg, Limpach:

The vicarage next to the church - have a close look at the windows on the far right. Notice anything unusual?

 This is how far we dared to go that morning:

Woods still looking more like autumn:

The barn on the other side of the road from the hotel is part of the hotel owners' farm. It was built by the current owners' ancestors in the 18th century and is still used as a barn.

The next day was sunny and brought the opportunity for more pictures before we had to leave, but these will have to wait for another post.

Speaking of which, I don't know yet when I will be able to post again. Because tomorrow morning, I'll go to hospital for surgery on my left eye. The operation is on Friday, the 13th - good job I am not superstitious! My surgeon told me to expect to stay in hospital for about 4 days and then stay home for at least two weeks, banned from work and sports. Vision should be restored by Day 5 or so, but I'll have to avoid anything that could increase the inner eye pressure. That will probably mean I won't be allowed (or able) to read and write online for a while, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time to begin with.

But I am definitely going to be back as soon as it is feasible and risk-free.
"See" you soon, I hope!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Read in 2018 - 6: A Boy*s Own Dale

A Boy's Own Dale
Terry Wilson

This is another of the books I bought last summer at The Little Ripon Bookshop. I am such a slow reader these days, it takes me almost a year to get through a small pile. That has to do with two things: 1. My eyes are not as good anymore as to allow me hours of reading before lights out. 2. I read on my kindle while on the train or elsewhere, and physical books are mostly kept for bedtime reading.

"A Boy's Own Dale" consists of Terry Wilson's memoirs, describing his childhood in the 1950s in Settle, a small town in Yorkshire.

Many people see this now as an enchanted time, a "golden" past where and when everything and everyone was, somehow, simpler and therefore better.
Of course we all know it wasn't like that; there was no such thing as the good old times.
For many who lived their (adult) lives in those years, post-war Britan (like most post-war countries in Europe) largely meant hard work for little money and conservative role models to adhere to with hardly any personal free time or room for the individual life styles we so appreciate today.
Still, for a little boy like Terry, it was his childhood, and a good one at that.

Yes, he worked hard at school, especially once he became eligible for the prestigious school in the next town. "Not the gas works for him", his Grandma said when he passed the entrance exam.
But Terry loved the outdoors, and outside school, nearly all his activities are set there.
He often went out on his own, disappearing all day until tea time, and nobody was worried - different times indeed.

Unlike many children nowadays who spend more time indoors than out, either watching TV or playing computer games, with sports often happening only in the organised manner of a club or at school, Terry was always out and about. He shot, he fished, he grew his own vegetables (and fetched prizes at local shows for them) and did a hundred other things without ever getting bored.
I bet he was not overweight and plagued by allergies like so many children today.
It was an enjoyable read, easy to imagine the places and people the author described, without making me want to turn back time and live in those days.

Terry Wilson died in 2015 at 84.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Spa Break

The Tuesday after my Big Birthday Bash, O.K. and I drove (well, he drove, of course) from his village to a place not far from Lake Constance, where we had booked a 3 nights break at a spa hotel. O.K. had been to the place several times before, so he knew more or less what to expect, but an extension has been added since his last visit and so some bits were new to him, too.

The village of Limpach consists of hardly more than a church, the hotel where we stayed, a farm with rooms for holiday guests, a small nursery school and a handful of farms and other houses. No shop, no pub. Oh, and two bus stops!

It is a very quiet place with fresh, clean air - perfect to relax. The hotel has a warm, down-to-earth feel to it, not overly posh (although everything is of good quality). The owner's family have been living in the village for hundreds of years, and still run their own farm across the road. Most of what they serve at the hotel for meals comes from their own (organic) farm.

Here are some pictures of our first day, the 27th of March.

Actually, the first picture is still at home at O.K.'s. The pink blossoms on the tree in his neighbour's garden were such a welcome and pretty sight, one of the first blooming trees I'd seen this spring!

Our room at the hotel:

View from our room:

Another view from our room, towards the spa's garden:

The village seen from a distance during our first walk in the area the same afternoon:

The village church was built in 1275 but has obviously seen alterations and renovations since. The door was open, so we went inside and O.K. took these pictures. The purple curtains hide the saints until they will be revealed on Easter Sunday.

You will see pictures of the church from the outside and some more of the area in another post.

We enjoyed a good dinner on our first evening at the hotel, and I slept like a log - the past few weeks had been so intense, I was really ready for this break!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Pub Quiz

In my last post, I said I was going to give you the questions we used for the pub quiz at my BBB (Big Birthday Bash) on the 25th of March. See how you would have fared!

The winning team consisted of 5 people, O.K. including (and no, he did not know the questions any more, and his threat that I wouldn't be his girlfriend anymore if he didn't win was not meant seriously!). 
The prize were 6 piccolo bottles of sparkling wine. As there were 5 to the team, they decided to give the 6th bottle to the person whose birthday was next to mine. That was my friend and colleague RO, and I thought this a really nice gesture of the winning team.

Here are the questions:

1. What is Meike's favourite colour?
2. What types of food are almost daily part of Meike’s diet?
3. How old was Meike when she learned to read?
4. Where in England does Meike spend a holiday every year?  
5. What languages does Meike speak?
6. How many surnames has Meike had so far?
7. Meike's place of birth?
8. Meike's favourite holiday in the course of the year?
9. What profession did Meike originally learn?
10. What was the name of Meike's white cat?
11. How many years has Meike been living in her current flat?
12. What year did Meike get her driving license?
13. Which Star Trek actor's birthday is also on the 22nd of March?
14. Is Meike right or left-handed?
15. Meike's furthest trip so far went where?
16. How many years has Meike been coming to the pub quiz here at “Towers”?
17. What day of the week was the 22nd of March 1968?

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Fun

Phew - what a turbulent but wonderful few weeks I have had!
As you already know, it all started with an impromptu party at my place on the 22nd of March, my actual birthday.

On Friday night, my Mum and I went to a concert which was excellent. On Saturday afternoon, we met my relatives from England at the airport. Their plane landed 15 minutes early but then there was an unexplained holdup at passport control, and we had to wait nearly an hour for them. Never mind, they were finally there, and it was so great to see them!
My sister invited us all to her place for the evening. We ordered pizzas and had a few bottles of wine (and beer for "the lads", i.e. O.K. and my nephew, who is 24).

On Sunday morning, they all came to my place for breakfast. Usually on a Sunday morning, breakfast means just O.K. and myself at the kitchen table - this time, there were 9 of us crowding my small living room, but everyone found a place to sit and it did not matter that plates had to be kept on knees as the coffee table was completely covered in breakfast things. 

The weather was beautiful, and so after breakfast, we all walked to the palace grounds for a stroll in the sun and some photos.

O.K. and I left the others then with my sister, because I had to be at the pub early to talk to the staff and make sure everything was as it should be.
The first guests started to arrive at 3:00 pm, and then the fun begun in earnest!

Altogether, there were 66 of us at the pub, with only a handful missing due to illness or other reasons. All food and drinks were on me, plus we had a pub quiz with questions about me that my sister and I had made up. I will post the questions for you in another post, just for fun - see how many you would have been able to answer!
The party lasted until nearly 11:00 pm, when O.K. and I were the last to leave.

On Monday morning, we met with my relatives from England again for breakfast, this time at a nearby café, to give them an idea of a typical German breakfast. Afterwards, we had enough time for some shopping in the town centre before we had to take them to the airport again. A whirlwind weekend was over - and I loved every minute of it!!

Monday evening, O.K. and I drove to his village. Tuesday, we left there for our spa break at a very nice hotel in the middle of nowhere (near Lake Constance; more on that in another post). 

We spent three very restful days there, with massages, sauna, walks in woodland and excellent food. Good Friday saw us once again on the road back to Ludwigsburg, for dinner at my parents'. Saturday it was back to the village, because O.K. was scheduled to play with the village band in church the next morning for Easter Sunday Service.

O.K.'s sister and brother-in-law had invited us for dinner that day, so: more excellent nosh!
Easter Monday was mostly sunny and mild so we went for a run (more or less!) in the morning and a walk in the afternoon before I had to catch the train back home.

Yesterday was my first day back at work. It felt as if I've been away for much longer - it was only a week, really, but I packed it chock full so that it felt like twice as long (in a good way, of course!). 

I am still overwhelmed by the amount of cards, presents, flowers, kind wishes and phone calls I received - there was not even enough space on the sideboard to hold everything, and I will go through all my cards once more to make sure I won't forget to say thankyou to everybody who thought of me.

Friday, 23 March 2018

The Fun Has Begun!

The two weeks I was talking about here are over. I have now been around for half a century plus one day. 
The fun has begun yesterday and will extend all through Monday - if you count the week off that O.K. and I will enjoy together next week, even longer. And if you count Easter, which will be spent partly with my folks and partly with O.K.'s, there is no end in sight to celebrating!

I worked all day yesterday, spending the day on the 9th floor of my client's office building (I've showed you the view from there before). At 6:00 sharply, my last meeting for the day was over, and I rushed home. At 6:23 I arrived at my flat, hair wet from the sleety rain that had surprised me on the 20-minute walk home.
At 6:30, the doorbell rang and my first guest arrived.

As the Big Birthday Bash is going to happen on Sunday, I kept things deliberately modest yesterday. I only asked my immediate family over so that we could clink glasses on me. My sister and my parents brought flowers and savoury snacks while I provided the champagne.
The doorbell rang again, and a couple of neighbours brought flowers. Of course I asked them in for a glass of champagne, too. And then, the best of all possible birthday surprises happened when the doorbell rang once more to reveal O.K., who had spent more than 2 hours on the very busy motorway just to celebrate my birthday with me!

I had really had no idea that he was coming; we both knew it was a week night and he'd be here for the weekend. More flowers!

We were all happily chatting away, drinking champagne and nibbling snacks, occasionally interrupted by a phone call. All day already at work, every time I came back to my desk I found that my (private) mobile phone showed new messages of people who had been trying to reach me, thinking I was having the day off.

The flowers, the cards, the presents, the lovely, lovely people - it was rather overwhelming. Every year I am surprised and immensely grateful for having so many people in my life who like me and show their friendship and appreciation by being in touch, sending cards, ringing or visiting. Some of you, my dear friends here in blogland, have sent me cards and presents, too - that is so wonderful! Thank you, all of you!

Today, I left work earlier than usual to do some badly needed window cleaning. Much as I like all sorts of house work (and I really do like ironing), I detest window cleaning. The reason is that they never turn out as good as I want them, and with my eyesight going from bad to worse, it is even more difficult to make a proper job of it. Anyway, it is done now, and I have time to write this post before I'll meet my Mum at the Music Hall for a concert. We are going to see our favourite live band, three men from Vienna who play only their own compositions on two guitars and a violin. I told you about them before and have posted a video of them playing, for instance here. I am looking forward to an evening of great live music.

Tomorrow, my relatives from Yorkshire (and elsewhere in England) will be arriving, as well as O.K. We are going to meet them at the airport and spend the rest of the day with them. Then there is the Big Birthday Bash on Sunday - more on that after the event :-)

Let me end this post with a picture of the prize I have prepared for the winning team of my very own pub quiz: six piccolo bottles of champagne, decorated with hearts cut out of the same paper used for my invitation cards.

As I have said, The Fun Has Begun!!!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Read in 2018 - 5: Date With Death

Date With Death
Julia Chapman

I bought this at The Little Ripon Bookshop, I think - anyway, I brought it home with me from last year's Yorkshire Holiday in the summer, and only now got round to reading it.

"Date With Death" is the first book in the "Dales Detective Series" by Julia Chapman. I had not heard of her until I bought this book, but will definitely look for more of the series - even though it took me a while to get into the story.

"Date With Death" introduces the reader to the (fictitious) small town of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales. Other places mentioned in the book are real, and the atmosphere in Bruncliffe reminds me of small market towns such as Helmsley, Leyburn or Richmond. 

The main characters are called Samson and Delilah - and in a rather predictable way, after they are off to a bad start at their first encounter, circumstances force them to work together, and chances are they will eventually renew their old friendship.
Old friendship, because Samson was born in Bruncliffe but went away to work with the police force in London, while Delilah never left. Throughout the book, there are hints (and bits and pieces come to light as the story moves on) of dark days in Samson's past as well as the reasons for his return to Bruncliffe.

Anyway, now he is back in his hometown and looking to make a living as a detective. At the same time, Delilah is working hard to overcome the emotional and financial impact of her recent divorce, trying to keep two businesses running to make ends meet. One of those businesses is a dating agency.

When Samson is asked to investigate into the death of a man whose mother can not believe it was suicide, and the man turns out to have been signed up with Delilah's agency, working together to solve the mystery becomes unavoidable. Two more men die under suspicious circumstances, and the lives of others are threatened - all of them connected to the dating agency.
Someone both Samson and Delilah care for becomes a suspect in the cases. Will they be able to clear their friend's name, overcome their own difficulties with each other and keep Delilah's business from failing?

As I said, it took me a while to get into the story. I liked the place, but I found the family issues (real or imagined) of Delilah left me cold, as did Samson's behaviour towards some of his old friends. I did like Delilah's dog, though, and Samson's Dad. My favourite character was Seth Thistlethwaite - last but not least for the sound of his name -, and elderly resident of Bruncliffe and the most sensible person in the book.

When I go back to Yorkshire this year, I will look for the next two books in the series.

Julia Chapman is Julia Stagg. You can find out more here on her official website.