Friday letters – the autumn weather edition

Aaah, it’s that time of the week again… the day that I bombard you with mini letters to the universe and you pretend you find them entertaining.

Shall we get started?

Postkasten

Dear clocks. I hear you’re going back this weekend. That always feels like the beginning of the end of the year. To be honest, I’ll be quite pleased when it’s over. Not because of all the celebrity deaths… I’m just hoping for good things in 2017.

Dear nuthatch. That’s twice I’ve seen you on my balcony now and both times I was nowhere near my camera. Come back soon, okay?

Dear tree by the balcony. Was it really only two weeks ago that I was praising the beauty of your yellow leaves? They’re almost all gone now and you look so sad with only mostly naked branches t show for yourself.

nearly-naked-tree
The last few leaves are still just about clinging on

Dear rain. I blame you for making all the leaves fall off so quickly. The poor things didn’t stand a chance with you bucketing down on them for 2 whole days!

Dear winter reading challenge. You’d think I’d be all challenged out by now, but I can’t wait to get stuck into you!

Dear comfort food. Your time has come! Now that it’s not too hot to cook I can make soups and curries and chillies to my heart’s content! Hurrah! Also, this is the perfect time of year to drink all the hot chocolate!

That is all. I have work to do! Have a great weekend, dear readers.

Friday letters

Once again Friday has come around incredibly quickly… it only seems like a few days since I was last writing these letters! And this time next week it will be the last Friday in September! Time is really flying… the dreaded “C” word will be here before we know it… I really need to start figuring out what gifts to buy for the people in my life! (Apart from Jan. I have his gift already. Shh… don’t tell him that!)

For now, though, let’s just have some Friday letters.

Mailbox

Dear autumn. You are officially here now… even in astronomical terms, so nobody can argue any more (even though it’s warmed up again here after a cold and rainy start to the week). Apparently here astronomical autumn started at 4:21pm yesterday…. I had no idea it came down to the minute!

Dear pumpkins. Why can’t you be available for me to eat all year round?! Now I have to gorge myself on you for the next few months while I still can!

Dear authors. Could you please stop releasing amazing sounding books on a regular basis? My to-read list  keeps getting longer and longer… and that’s just with the books that are already available!

Dear crows. You are very cool birds, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t make an awful racket outside my window early in the morning! (Hopefully this will stop now it’s no longer light at 5 am…)

That’s all for today. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I’m off work next week – not going anywhere, but trying to use up some holiday – so this weekend is the start of what will hopefully be a nice long stretch of relaxation.

Paris on my mind

Inspired by this post the lovely Katyboo, today I wanted to write something positive about Paris to counteract the awful images we’ve been seeing all weekend. A sort of projecting of light into the darkness, if you will. Luckily, it turns out that, although I blogged about where we ate, the Welcome to Night Vale live show we saw and an amazing bar, I never actually got round to sharing the other photos from our stay.

Much like this autumn has been, the end of October/beginning of November was unseasonably warm in 2014, and we were able to enjoy lunch outside and a stroll around some of the sights of Paris. We didn’t have much time, but that didn’t matter. It was a lovely two days spent with my boyfriend and a good friend. Paris will never be my favourite place (sorry, but no big city will ever take that honour – I’m more of a small, quaint places kind of girl), but I have good memories from the times I’ve been there. And that’s something no terrorist will ever be able to take away from me.

Here are a few photos from last year’s Paris trip:

My thoughts are with the people of Paris, and also of all those other countries that are experiencing acts of terrorism and war every single day, but rarely receive as much news coverage as Friday’s attacks did.

I’m linking up with Monday Escapes again this week. I think we could all use an escape from sadness and hate right now.

Packing my Suitcase

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015

I’m aware I haven’t actually finished telling you about our holiday in England yet, but today I want to skip to what we did this weekend because the festival isn’t over yet and there might be people in the area who feel like going.

Each year, the castle in Ludwigsburg hosts a huge pumpkin festival in its gardens. A few bloggers went last year and it looked amazing, but sadly I wasn’t able to go then, so when Meredith wrote a blog post about this year’s event I was determined to make it there this time. From Karlsruhe, it would have been fairly easy to get to. This year we were further away, meaning the journey took us around 3 hours (changing trains twice), but we decided that was just about doable. Since we had to change trains in Karlsruhe, I asked whether any of my friends there would like to join us and two of them did.

Tiny pumpkinsEach year, there is a theme for the sculptures at the festival to fit into and this year’s was Fliegen, which mines flight. However, there were some interesting interpretations of the word, for instance one sculpture was of a grand piano, which is der Flügel in German… and Flügel is also the German word for wing (as in what birds have, not the wing of a house), giving it a (slightly contrived) connection to flight. Here are some of my favourite photos that I took of the sculptures. The smaller carved pumpkins aren’t part of the “main” exhibition and therefore don’t have to follow the flight theme (hence cows and snakes).

I managed to take my camera along without it’s memory card because I’m a moron 😉 Luckily I can actually take some photos with the camera’s own memory, but it meant I had to ration myself. Luckily my friend K took lots of photos, which she very kindly shared with me, so the next gallery is all her work.

As well as the sculptures, there were various culinary offerings involving pumpkin. We had roast pumpkin seeds – I bought ones with chilli and sugar while K chose sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin popcorn (boring – it was just ordinary sweet popcorn with crushed pumpkin seeds sprinkled on, and taste of just… popcorn), pumpkin burgers (amazing! Would eat again!), pumpkin chips/fries (also amazing! I plan to try and make my own), pumpkin Schorle (juice mixed with fizzy water) and pumpkin prosecco (“Kürbissecco”), and also sampled some of the items that were available to buy for taking home – including pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin ketchup and pumpkin chutney. All were delicious!

As well as the sculptures, the entire place is decorated with pumpkins and the winners of the German and European giant pumpkin contests were also in display. Here are a few general impressions of the pumpkins, the park and the gorgeous autumn colours. First gallery contains my photos:

And the following photos are by K:

Sorry about the photo overload – I couldn’t narrow it down any further!

If anyone is in the Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg/Heidelberg area and wants to see the pumpkins for themselves, the festival is on until Saturday 8th November. The exhibition area is not lit, so I recommend going during the day/before dark. Entrance to the garden is €8.50 – and make sure you do ask for a ticket to just the garden, unless you actually want to go into the castle! Apart from the pumpkins, the garden itself has a lot to offer, including a huge walk in aviary (which we sadly didn’t have time to go into this time, but Jan and I have been before and it’s amazing!) and a fairytale forest.

Phew! That was a long post, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end!
I’m linking this up for Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. Click the button for more information.

Packing my Suitcase

Friday letters

Is it just me or is autumn going by really fast? I know it’s only mid-October and officially autumn will last a while longer, but over the last few days it’s gone cold here and I can sense winter rearing its ugly head already! Oh well, at least the sun’s out today so I won’t have to force myself to go for a walk in the rain like I did yesterday. Anyway, letters…

postboxDear wrist. I’m not sure why you hurt (although holding the tablet seems to aggravate you so that could be a clue?), but you need to stop it. I have many cards to cross stitch and right now stitching for long stretches hurts!

Dear patterned tights. You know what would be nice? If your patterns actually went all the way up! When the end of my skirt/dress is reached and then there’s a block of plain black (or whatever) before the pattern starts looks really odd! And the dresses I wear aren’t that short… mostly.

Dear autumn leaves. You’re so pretty! I wish you weren’t all falling down already – although the trees in the courtyard outside my flat are still looking rather glorious in yellow and orange.

Dear birds. Now the cold is setting in, we’re planning on buying a feeder for our balcony very soon. I hope you’ll come and visit once we do!

Dear Sherlock. No wonder your seasons are so short – those episodes are long! You’re the reason I got nothing done between making tea and going to bed last night!

Dear old home. Sorry to hear you’ve lost your best Irish pub. Honestly, you move away and everything goes to pot 😉

Right, must get back to work now. Happy Friday and have a great weekend everyone!

Brain dump

This is one of those posts where I choose the bullet point option then just spill whatever thoights are buzzing round in my brain that aren’t enough to make an entire blog post by themselves. Basically, it’s one big confusing mess. Here goes…

  • I recently received a letter from my favourite penpal (yes, I’m in my 30s and have penpals. Don’t judge!) saying she doesn’t want to write to me anymore. Apparently she doesn’t like the style of my letters because she wants to have a “conversation” with her penpals and she doesn’t get that with me (this is me translating – we write wrote 😦 to each other in German). I suppose it’s mainly my fault because I keep getting busy/distracted and not writing for ages, which makes it difficult to keep up a conversation. And also I guess I fail just as much at conversation on paper as in real life. Oh well, I’d just better try harder with my remaining penpals!
  • Our Biomüll bin was full recently so Jan decided to throw some banana skins in the normal rubbish (people in Germany – that’s actually allowed here!). The bin was still almost empty at the time and still isn’t full so now I’m attacked by a swarm of fruit flies every time I open the bin. I am never buying bananas again!! I don’t even like them that much…
  • Autumn is coming!! At least the supermarkets think it is. I walked into Coop the other day and the first thing I spotted was pumpkins. I *may* have got a little overexcited and immediately picked up a butternut squash despite the fact that I’d only gone in for milk, cream and bacon, parmesan and bacon bits. Time to have pumpkin with 90% of my meals again! Om nom nom. (I am also in the processing of cooking chestnuts in caramel sauce for lunch – autumn, you bring the best foods!)
    Yellow leaves
  • Remembering how long it took my last year, I decided to start my Christmas cross stitching last week. How are there only 16 weeks until Christmas?!
  • We were looking at flights last night for our trip to England in October and I realised I haven’t been home for over a year – and that was only the briefest of brief visits for my grandpa’s funeral. That’s more than a year since I’ve seen my dad, grandma and little brother! Crazy! (I saw my other brother, my mum and my sister at the wedding in July, but obviously only my mum’s side of the family attended that).
  • Our tickets for The Lion King musical arrived! We go the day after tomorrow. Excitement!

Right, that’s all. I need to eat my lunch now… then it’s back to work for me. I have loads to do this afternoon.

This has been your mid-week catch up. Or something. Goodbye!

Bad Bergzabern

The day we went to Sukie’s for breakfast was so gorgeously sunny that it seemed a waste to spend it indoors doing housework, so after breakfast Jan, K and I decided to drive over the Bad Bergzabern for the afternoon. I knew nothing about the town other than that it was close (about 40 minutes drive from Karlsruhe) and the Internet said it had pretty buildings. What we found was a quaint little town that was just starting to show some signs of autumn colours. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so walk we did. I don’t really have much to say about the town, so this post will basically be a giant photo dump. Here are some of the town… my favourite thing was the bright red leaves on some trees in front of a church:

We also went for a walk around the Kurpark, or spa gardens. Like all towns with “Bad” in the name, Bad Bergzabern is a spa town. The park was still pretty green, with just a few hints of yellow and red starting to show up – everything stayed green for much longer than usual this year!

When we’d had enough of walking around, we stopped at a café for a drink then headed back to the car. On the way home, we stopped off at a roadside stand to buy some Neuer Wein (new wine), i.e. wine that hasn’t yet matured and still tastes a lot like fizzy grape juice (but don’t drink it like grape juice or you will regret it!). It was a lovely Sunday afternoon with unseasonably fantastic weather. And Bad Bergzabern is quite a nice little town as well – quaint, as I said above (actually, that description came from my dad when I posted the photos on Facebook). There’s not a great deal to do there, but on a sunny day it’s a lovely place for a wander around.

Friday letters and links

Can you believe it’s Friday again already? This has been another one of those weeks that seemed to simultaneously fly by and take forever. Work has been busy again, and thanks to a Tuesday night strike which caused my train on Wednesday to be cancelled (meaning I arrived later than usual) and having to leave early yesterday, I’ve ended up spending quite a bit of time working from home in the evenings trying to make up my hours. *Sigh* As for the story with my stomach… I’m still eating fairly plainly, but seem to be okay with most things as long as I stick with small portions. I have had abdominal pains a couple of times and I also keep feeling bloated/full even after a very small meal. Plus there’s the annoying issue of constantly having acid in my throat. So I picked up a referral from my doctor and now have an appointment with a gastoentorologist for next Friday – knowing my luck I’ll be perfectly fine by then and never will figure out what the problem is! Oh well, I suppose I can always cancel the appointment. My blood test came back clear, so at least liver and gallbladder problems have been ruled out. And as it’s Friday, here’s your weekly dose of letters.

Eye'm watching you...

Dear cross stitch. I wish I could get better at you! I still seem to do a lot of unpicking, and the back of my stitching is quite frankly a disaster! I see all the amazing gift ideas in magazines and think if I tried to give someone a hand-stitched gift they would most likely laugh at me! Cards are about the limit of my abilities…

Dear weather. Please could you make your mind up what you want to do? On Tuesday, I wore ordinary tights and was freezing, so yesterday I put on my slightly thicker ones along with a scarf and found myself wishing I could strip in the middle of the street.

Dear autumn colours. I hope you stick around for a while longer. I want to get out with my camera and record you! And the weather forecast for this weekend is not good…

Dear neighbours. I have no problem with you playing your music loudly enough for me to hear it – I know the walls aren’t exactly thick – but must it be the same exact playlist every evening?

Dear fruit flies. I’ve thrown food away, scrubbed every surface, bought a Biomüll bin with a lid and actually been keeping on top of the washing up. What else do I have to do before you finally get lost?!

Now here are some links for you – I haven’t posted any in a while.

Lucy from On the Luce shared some of her favourite books about travel, both fiction and non-fiction. There are some great sounding ones there – and she reminded me that I still haven’t read On The Map (I bought it for Jan last Christmas and he got through it within a matter of days so it must have been good!).

Sticking with travel, Jan introduced me to this game on the BBC that shows you a place somewhere in the world then has you guess whereabouts you are. You can move around, then you click on the map to make your guess and get points based on how far away you were. It’s quite interesting (and not all that easy!)

I love this comic series about the struggles of a translator named Mox. A lot of it mainly applies to freelancers, but there’s often a strip that has me nodding along in agreement.

The annual Glücksatlas (Happiness Map) by Deutsche Post recently came out and my region (Baden) is fourth on  the list. Woo hoo!

Have a great weekend everyone! I hope the weather where you are is nicer than here.

*I’m linking up with Kate for Daily Diaries. Click the link to see what the rest of the blogosphere has been up to this week*

Triberg im Schwarzwald

Since the weather forecast for Saturday was good, I suggested to Jan that we should go somewhere. After all, this could be the last sunny weekend we experience this year. Cold days are coming! We decided on Triberg in the Black Forest.

Triberg features the highest accessible waterfalls in Germany – do not be fooled by all the advertising that labels them the highest! It’s a lie… the actual highest is the Röthbach Waterfall in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, but getting to that one requires a boat ride then a hike! Triberg is slightly more accessible…

View from opposite the train station
View from opposite the train station

We took the Schwarzwaldbahn (Blackforest Train) to Triberg, arriving at 11:45 a.m., so after going on a hunt for a bank, our first stop was lunch! We chose to go to the Marktplatzstube, because it looked at least slightly less touristy than most of the other restaurants. It’s basically an Italian restaurant and the menu is fairly standard, but I thought the food was good. Jan had canneloni with lots of meat and cheese while I chose the salmon ravioli.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and autumn was in full swing… so many beautiful colours! Walking through town, I was so warm I actually took my coat off – although I put it back on again once we got to the waterfall! It’s much chillier there, what with the shade from the trees and the water acting like natural air conditioning. Here are a few photos of the town and our walk to the waterfall.

The Rathaus (Town Hall)
The Rathaus (Town Hall)

It costs €3.50 to visit the waterfalls, but I think that’s okay considering how well maintained the trail was. Where you pay the entrance fee, you can also buy small bags of peanuts to feed the squirrels – apparantly they like to hang around near the top of the waterfall and are fairly tame. We didn’t actually see any squirrels though, so we started feeding the many birds hovering around instead. We would place a peanut on the fence, step back and wait for a bird to notice. One of the many information boards informed us that these birds are called Nutcrackers, or Spotted Nutcrackers.

It took a lot of peanuts to get that second shot!

Once we’d finished looking at the waterfall and having fun with birds, we decided to take one of the other trails through the woods – the Kulturpfad (Culture Trail). Once we got away from the waterfall, there were a lot fewer people around. And we were soon rewarded with a sighting of a black squirrel to share some of our remaining nuts with!

Where the trail left the woods, we discovered a small lake with ducks and a church, the Wallfahrtskirche. There was also a children’s playground beside the lake. From there, we took the road back into town and stopped from some Neuer Wein (Young Wine – it’s wine that’s just starting to ferment) before heading back to the train station.

Triberg is quite a nice little town, but it is incredibly touristy (as you can tell by the entire street ouf souvenir/Black Forest cuckoo clock shops near the entrance to the waterfall!). Personally, I think we picked the right time of year to go, when it was still warm but not too crowded… it was actually possible to have my photo taken in front of the waterfall without a dozen other people being in the picture! And of course there’s the added bonus of all the autumn colours, which you wouldn’t have in July or August. I wouldn’t recommend going if the weather is bad, but on a sunny day the waterfall and culture trail make for a nice walk. There’s also a Black Forest Museum if you find yourself with a few extra hours to kill once you’ve had enough nature.

colourful tree

Family… can’t live with them, can’t murder them in their sleep!

So, it seems my Grandma is in hospital with pneumonia. How did I find this out? Facebook! And not in a personal message to me either… I discovered it from my sister’s status. Thanks for letting me know family! The last time I checked, moving abroad didn’t magically make her no longer my grandma…
I admit I’m not the best at keeping in touch (I wonder where I get that from?!) but you would have thought for something important somebody might have found a few minutes to send me a quick text message! Welcome to life as a member of my family people. This, by the way, is about 90% of the reason I’m still on Facebook (the other 10% being I’m nosy and like to see what people are up to…). When I lived in Austria I didn’t have Facebook. In the time I was there, the only person who phoned or e-mailed me on a semi-regular basis was my dad. I heard from my mum maybe twice (in 10 months!) and my sister not at all. No postcards, no text messages and not one single e-mail… Families. Can’t live with them, can’t murder them in their sleep!

(To be fair to my sister, I should add that after I commented on her status, she did message me to let me know what had happened… apparantly she had assumed my mum would have told me.)

On an entirely unrelated note, I had to go to the train station yesterday to buy some baking ingredients. I wanted to make chocolate brownies and had forgotten to buy chocolate! Yes, I am that bright at times… The shop in the train station is one of the very few places where you can actually buy things on a Sunday (the other option is petrol stations), so that was where I had to go. It had been raining and I liked how shiny the autumn leaves looked (those that hadn’t been trodden to mush already, anyway) so I took some photos along the way. Enjoy!