A photo an hour: 8th November 2014

On Saturday, I took part in A Photo an Hour with Is That You, Darling? again.It took me a few days to get round to uploading the photos, which is why you’re only getting the post now. (But on our new computer, which I am in awe at the speed of! You’d understand if you saw what I’d been dealing with until now…)

9 a.m. I wasn’t actually planning on getting up for another hour, but bloody construction workers outside the window ruined my lie in!
10 a.m. Starting a new cross stitch image for a Christmas card

11 a.m. Out of the shower – time to get dressed
12 noon. Doing a few dishes before making lunch

1 p.m. A quick trip to the local supermarket
2 p.m. Time for a cuppa, seeing as my morning one went cold before I could finish it!

3 p.m. More cross stitch – nearly finished this one!
4 p.m. Wondering what to make for tea later. Please ignore the state of my fridge!

5 p.m. Time to start hacking up a pumpkin (it always takes me forever!)
6 p.m. Cooking

7 p.m. Wine? Don’t mind if I do!
8 p.m. Watching the first Hobbit film. (I still can’t believe  they stretched out that tiny book to make three films!)

9 p.m. Still watching the film, so here’s a selfie on the sofa!
10 p.m. Watching Jan get our new computer set up.

11 p.m. In bed with a book. And that’s your last photo… I turned the light out just after midnight but didn’t take another photo. I wish I had now though because this has ruined my symmetry 😉

book page

A photo an hour: 13 September 2014

On Saturday, Janey from Is That You Darling? hosted the September edition of her monthly A Photo an Hour linkup. I was quite excited to take part this time as I had actual plans for the day. For once a photo an hour post that wouldn’t consist solely of me drinking endless cups of tea and maybe going food shopping! Naturally, I was in 😉 So here’s my day at the Wurstmarkt wine festival recorded in one photo per hour.

9 a.m. (I actually got up at 8:30 but forgot it was photo an hour day until after I’d showered). Deciding what to wear is difficult in the current changeable weather conditions!

clothing

10 a.m. Breakfast time! Tea is definitely needed.

Tea and toast

11 a.m. On the train with our tickets (actually, I have a Bahncard 100 so this isn’t my ticket)

Ticket

12 noon. Waiting for our second train to leave. Here’s a terrible picture of Neustadt train station.

Neustadt Weinstraße

1 p.m. Made it! Now to have a walk around and see what food’s on offer.

Wurstmarkt

2 p.m. Food eaten (wild boar Bratwurst and wild boar Saumagen with potato salad – yum!), now for my first glass of wine. Mindful of the long day of wine drinking ahead of us, I went for Schorle (spritzer).

Weinschorle

3 p.m. Selecting my next wine – in the Weindorf area, they have proper menus (and table decorations – notice the plant under the menu)

Wine list

4 p.m. Still drinking Weinschorle in the same tent, so to avoid taking the same photo again (it was a different wine, but it looked the same!) I went with a a selfie in my friend’s sock monkey hat.

Sock monkey selfie

5 p.m. Time to try some different wines in the slightly less posh area – no cushions on the seats here!

Wurstmarkt 2014

6 p.m. Entertainment! A mini “marching band” was playing next to the wine hut thingy we were in.

Wurstmarkt

7 p.m. On to another hut for some different wines. Hmm, what to choose?

Wine list

8 p.m. Moooore wine! Going down nicely 😉

Wine

9 p.m. Off back to the train station. We came across this fountain on the way.

Fountain

10 p.m. We had to change trains twice on the way home, this photo was taken on train number 2.

Train

10:20 p.m. Bonus photo! We changed trains for the second time in Winden, where we were reunited with the model geese we discovered there last year. Here I am getting reacquainted with my goosey friend 😉

Goose

11 p.m. We arrived back in Karlsruhe to find this going on at the train station. I have no idea what it was all about! (I’ve blurred out some faces because German privacy laws are strict and I’m paranoid about being punished.)

dancers

And that’s my final photo. By midnight, Jan and I were already tucked up in bed with our glasses of water, a fun day having been had by all. The Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim is the world’s largest wine festival. In 2014, it’s on for one final weekend – from 18-21 September. If you’re in the area, get yourself down there. You won’t regret it!

You can see what the other participants in the linkup got up to on this day by going to Jane’s blog post.

Bad Dürkheim Wurstmarkt

Entering the Wurstmarkt...
Entering the Wurstmarkt…

Yesterday, Jan, K and I went to the Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim. Those of you who understand even a little German will probably have noticed that “Wurstmarkt” literally translates to Sausage Market. But din’t let the name fool you… it’s actually a wine festival. The biggest in Germany, no less!

We arrived at 12:35 in the afternoon, so the logical first act was to go and find some food. Bad Dürkheim is in Rheinland-Pfalz, so the obvious choice of food was Pfälzer Saumagen – sow’s stomach. For those who are now thinking “eeew”, it actually tastes a lot nicer than the name suggests. A bit like gammon, but spiced differently and with little bits of potato in among the meat.

Saumagen with Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes)
Saumagen with Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes)

Because we were planning on staying at the fest all day, we decided to make our first drink a Weinschorle (wine spritzer, i.e. wine with fizzy water). I went for a Riesling.

Rieslingschorle
Rieslingschorle

Once we’d eaten and drunk, we decided to go for a walk and see what else there was going on. As with all German Fests of this type (including Oktoberfest), there was a huge funfair.

A spinning swings ride
A spinning swings ride
A clown points the way to the facilities
A clown points the way to the facilities
The ghost train
The ghost train

As well as the rides, there were various stands where you could win things by hooking ducks, shooting balloons or throwing balls at stacks of cans, among other things. Check out all the prizes at this stand:

Prizes
Prizes

Next, it was time for more wine. We discovered the Weindorf, an area where a dozen Bad Dürkheim wine merchants had set up tents and were serving wine in a slightly more stylish atmosphere than in the “ordinary” wine tents where we had eaten. The tables in the Weindorf were decorated and the benches had cushions on. Very nice.

Part of the Weindorf area
Part of the Weindorf area
Wine at the Weindorf
Wine at the Weindorf

Later, we went for another walk through the fairground area in search of some candy floss.

One of the many food stalls... can you guess what this one was selling?
One of the many food stalls… can you guess what this one was selling?
Candy floss!
Candy floss!
Ferris wheel
Ferris wheel

Candyfloss eaten, we returned to the Weindorf and tried more wines until it was time to leave for our train home.

This year’s Wurstmarkt is on until Tuesday 10 September 2013, then takes a break before reopening from Friday 13 to Monday 16 September, so if you’re in the area and like wine there’s still time to get yourselves along. It’s well worth it!

Friday letters – the “ouch” edition

Forgive me if most of today’s letters refer to the evil that is wisdom teeth. It’s kind of difficult to think of anything else when the pain is all you feel…

Wisdom Teeth
This may actually be my wisdom tooth! (Photo: tarale)

Dear wisdom teeth. According to every single source on the planet, you are supposed to come in between the ages of 14 and 24. This fact led me to believe I had escaped the horror… so why are you coming in now that I am thirty?!

Dear soup. Please forgive me if I go off you completely once this whole wisdom tooth saga is over. I imagine there’s going to be a lot of you in my future! (And my present come to think of it. It’s difficult to chew when your mouth won’t open fully!)

Dear sleep. I hope we get to meet again for more than two hours at a time soon!

Dear wine festival. I am still coming to visit you tomorrow! I don’t want to be stuck at home continuously until evil tooth is gone, and besides, if I can go to work I’m sure I can go to a wine festival!

I can’t think of any more (I told you I basically have a one-track mind right now!), so I’m going to stop now before I bore you all to tears 😉 Have a good weekend everyone!

Photobucket

Heilbronn

With exactly one month to go until my birthday (aarrghh!!), I really need to get a move on with my 30 German Towns Before 30 posts! Here’s one that I visited a few years ago!

Heilbronn is located in north-western Baden-Württemberg on both banks of the River Neckar. It’s best known for its wine-making industry, and the very first time I went there was for that very reason – it was the week of the annual Weindorf (literally Wine Village) festival and some ex-colleagues had arranged to meet up for a tour of the vineyards followed by wine tasting at the Weindorf. I wrote all about that trip to Heilbronn here, but without pictures which is why I’m re-doing Heilbronn for 30 German Towns Before 30.

Heilbronn is about 75-80 km from Karlsruhe, and is quite convenient to get to using public transport – there’s an S-Bahn (suburban train) that goes directly from one town centre to the other… and if you manage to get an Eilzug (express train) it’s even fairly quick, taking just over an hour.

Heilbronn/Karlsruhe Stadtbahn train pulling in...
Heilbronn/Karlsruhe Stadtbahn train pulling into the station outside of Heilbronn Hauptbahnhof (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in the post I’ve linked to above, Heilbronn was bombed extensively during the Second World War, with 62% of the city being destroyed, including the old town area. Unfortunately, this means that, today, Heilbronn is nowhere near as pretty as most other towns in the region – admittedly one of the towns it has to compete with is Heidelberg, which makes things a little unfair! Here’s a photo taken from up in the vineyards. Heilbronn is down there somewhere:

Heilbronn from above
Heilbronn from above

And here are some of the grapes in vineyards:

Grapes, waiting to become wine
Grapes, waiting to become wine

After a guided tour of the vineyards, we went down into Heilbronn itseld for some wine tasting at the Weindorf. There were a lot of stalls selling wine down there, but all the ones we tried were from the same producer.

Welcome to the Weindorf!
Welcome to the Weindorf!

My second trip to Heilbronn was with Jan for the Christmas market – we had been to Bad Wimpfen that day and werde disappointed to find the market there closed so we headed to Heilbronn so I could get my Glühwein fix (he was driving). Before hitting the Glühwein stand, we took a walk down to the river where I took my only photos in the town that day. Sorry people of Heilbronn, but concrete and glass shopping centres do nothing for me! Here’s the Götzenturm (Götz Tower), which used to sit at the south-eastern corner of the city wall:

Götzturm, Heilbronn
Götzturm, Heilbronn

Being the middle of November, it started to get really dark soon after I took the photo above, so we went and looked round the Christmas market, failed to find any gifts then I had a Glühwein before we headed home. Here’s a terrible shot of the Christmas market, with a church in the background (all the photos in this post were taken with my old camera, which was even worse than my current one… and my current one isn’t the best!)

Christmassy Heilbronn
Christmassy Heilbronn

All in all, I can’t say Heilbronn is my favourite town in Germany, but if you’re into wine the Weindorf is worth a visit.

Still here

Well, it seems the world hasn’t ended, so it looks like I will have to turn 30 after all. Thanks a lot universe – I thought you were at least going to help me avoid that one!

After six years, I still find it difficult to speak German on the phone. Jan’s mum called last night, on the landline, so of course I answered. When his dad calls the conversation usually goes “Is Jan there?” “Yes, I’ll just get him for you”, but his mum tends to converse with me before I hand over the phone.

The Red Phone
The Red Phone (Photo credit: Eric Kilby)

My German is good, but I tend to forget words occasionally and it’s so much easier to get my point across when I can use hand gestures as well.

After assuring me that “he felt fine, it was just his nose that was blocked” when I left for work yesterday, by the time I came home, Jan was in bed complaining of a sore ear and a headache. He still refused my offers of Lemsip and Ibuprofen though – apparantly you only need medicine if you actually plan on getting out of bed? (Is this a German thing, a man thing or is my boyfriend just weird?). I made us some nice tea containing lots of vegetables and some extra hot chilli flakes (I defy any blocked nose to withstand them!) then spent the evening doing cross stitch with a couple of glasses of wine (I bought myself a mini bottle). After about half an hour, Jan actually came out to join me and started reading out questions from the quiz book he had in his advent calendar today. If the world had ended it wouldn’t have been a bad way to go, although it would have been a shame not to actually finish the cross stitch – I still have lots to do.

Right now I’m waiting to find out whether we’re going to Jan’s dad’s place tomorrow or staying here for Christmas. If it’s the latter, I need to go and buy food for Christmas today. I’m planning on doing roast chicken for Christmas day if we’re here (cooking one turkey a year is more than enough for me!).

Back to reality with a bump

After 3 and a half days spent with my boyfriend, during which we drank a bottle of wine while reading out random facts to each other from books of useless information, purchased a new plant (and soil to repot one of the old ones), attended a mini music festival in celebration of a local music shop’s 30th anniversary and watched Chelsea beat Bayern on penalties in the Champions League (allowing me to laugh at Bayern), my four-day weekend is now over, Jan has gone away to a trade fair and the washing machine decided to leak all over the kitchen floor. I think it’s fairly safe to say reality has kicked back in. All I want to do now is sleeep – ready to be up for work at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Which is why I’m keeping this blog post short. Good night world! I’m off to try and sleep in my big empty double bed all by myself. I suppose it’s good practice for January, when it’s looking more and more likely that I will be alone…

That was the weekend that was…

Thank you all for the lovely comments on my last blog post. We celebrated six years of being together by going for a meal at an Italian restaurant close to my flat. It’s fairly new and we hadn’t been there before, but every time I’ve walked past it was packed. As it was again on Friday night. We arrived at just before 8 o’clock and were told they did have a table for 2 free, but only until 9pm! We had a lovely meal, complete with wine and actually were finished by 9… not bad! Will definitely be going there again, but perhaps with a reservation next time? After the meal we came home and watched the Goonies on DVD. I bought it for myself the other day as a treat, because it was cheap, and Jan had never seen it! Slowly, slowly I am filling in the gaps in his education… I’ve already introduced him to Edward Scissorhands and The Breakfast Club… and now The Goonies. I wonder what other classics he’s missed out on?

Yesterday we drove over towards the Pfälzerwald (Palatinate Forest) and went for a bit of a walk through the trees. There’s still deeo snow up there! Afterwards we drove into Landau, had a bit of a walk around then went to a wine tavern for something to eat. I had pike-perch fillet in a really nice sauce. And a glass of wine of course… what else should one drink in a wine tavern?
We had a lovely day, culminating in a talk about the possibility of actually getting a flat together… but more on that tomorrow, it’s such a mile stone that I think it deserves a whole blog post of it’s very own 🙂

Today I have mostly been working on my dissertation.. or at least attempting to. I have a grand total of 536 words so far, which I may or may not be able to use in the actual dissertation. *sigh* Can someone please remind me why I wanted to do a master’s?

Oh, and I’ve just heard (courtesy of my sister) that a friend of mine back in England has become a father today. He’s actually the son of a family friend and I’ve known hi since I was about 10 years old… rather strange thinking of him having a new born daughter! We are all growing up, alas…

So, that was my weekend. How was yours?

Grapes, glorious grapes

Yesterday I went to Heilbronn with some of my ex colleagues. The southern branches of the company had arranged to meet up and I was invited too. There were 10 of us in all. We had booked a walk through a vineyard, complete with guide, followed by wine tasting at the Weindorf (wine village), an annual wine festival that started in Heilbronn last week.

The tour started with a bus ride up the mountain, during which a female guide told us all about the town and especially about its history of wine growing. It seems Heilbronn was bombed to death in December 1944, which is why it’s now full of not particularly pretty modern buildings. A shame as it could be such a pretty town, located among the mountains as it is.

On the mountain we met with a male guide who we walked back down with, pausing every once in a while for him to explain something to us. We also got to try some of the grapes. That there on the left is a picture I took of some before we plucked and ate them. Close to the bottom of the mountain we were taken to a small winegrower’s residence where we were able to try our first wines, one white and one red. The woman explained what we were supposed to taste but as usual it just tasted like wine to me. Supposedly the white one was meant to have a hint of bell pepper in it(!) but I couldn’t taste anything like that. To be honest I’m quite pleased… pepper flavoured wine really doesn’t sound appealing to me! We then had a tour of their facilities before heading down the mountain, into town and to the Weindorf. At the Weindorf we were given some bread and cheese then had the chance to try six different sorts of wine – two red, one rose (there should be an accent there but I can’t make wordpress do one) and three white. The rose one, called Musketto, was very nice, as were two of the white ones whose names I unfortunately don’t remember. After the wine tasting we headed to Lehners for some food. I ate Käsespätzle, a  speciality from this region consisting of small dumplings with lots of melted cheese. Very nice – if you’re ever in Baden-Württemberg definitely give it a try. And of course we drank wine – what else? It just so happened that the wine we chose was made by the same people we’d just had a tour with! It wasn’t one of the wines they’d given us to sample though.

By the time we’d finished eating it was nearly 10pm, time to head home. I caught a tram back with the other people who had come from Karlsruhe, finally arriving home at about 11:30pm. I had a quick look at my photos to see whether any of them had actually worked (screen on the camera is still broken) then went to bed, where I was thankfully not bitten. I’m still itchy from where the mosquito got me on Friday night!

My night of pretending to be posh

It took me an hour and a half to do my hair last night. I just don’t have the kind of hair that you can do things with. It’s incredibly thick, which hairdressers will tell you is a good thing, but it’s not. Next time you’re in a place that sells hair accessories take a look and see how many of them have a little sticker saying “for thick hair”. If you manage to find more than 3 it will be a miracle. If more than 1 of those is not ugly please tell me where that shop is, I need to go there right now!
Anyway, last night. I knew I couldn’t leave it down, not for a posh restaurant, so it had to go up. My first attempt took 10 minutes and a dozen hair clips. From the front it looked ok, but then I saw the back. It was a mess. So down it came. I then tried putting part of it up and leaving a bit down at the back. It didn’t work. At all. Six tries later I was sweating, exhausted and frustrated, but at least I’d managed to get my hair up. By the time I’d managed to get my make up done we were running late and had to rush into town. Rushing in sandals with heels isn’t good. I now have blisters on the balls of my feet, which hurts a lot and makes it difficult to walk, I won’t be wearing those shoes again for a while! It was worth it though, the rest of the night was amazing!

When we arrived at the hotel we were first shown to our room. Yes, we had a whole room all to ourselves! The nice waiter man took our jackets then suggested that we head over the the bar for some aperitifs. They called it a bar, and there was indeed a bar at one end, but the room itself looked like something in a stately home. It was amazing! Portraits on the wall, nice carpets and posh armchairs everywhere. Wow! We ordered our drinks, which were incredible. I had a cocktail of champagne with strawberry liquer and strawberry juice. To go with our drinks we were rought some hors d’ouvres. Little pieces of bread cut into circles and squares with tiny but perfectly arranged toppings. Fabulous.

After the appertisers we headed back to our room. We were served our starters and the wine expert came by to advise us on what to drink. We started with a sweet white wine that tasted almost like lemonade. Later we switched to a dryer white wine, which I then stuck to for the rest of the night. There was also a red wine to go with the later courses. I tried the red wine but didn’t like it. The starters (can’t remember what they were) were followed by foamed goose liver pate with goose mince arranged on top of it. It tasted a lot nicer than it sounds! Next came the fish course. We had kingfish fillet, which I really enjoyed. Then came something that was called “Flusskrebs” in German. I’ve just looked it up and found out that means crayfish, so there you go. It was quite nice anyway, but I couldn’t have eaten too much of it. Good job posh portions are only little! After the crayfish came the part I had been waiting for all night. Meat! It was ram I believe (trying to translate from the German here). I usually prefer my meat well done, and this was only medium, but it actually tasted incredible. All of these courses were served by 3 or 4 waiters at a time, who then placed the plates in front of us all at once. Before each course our waiter came in and explained what we were about to eat.
The meat was followed by cheese, which was brought in on a huge trolley. A waitress explained what was on the trolley and then put together a selection on a plate. This took a while as she had to do it for each of us individually. And finally we had pudding – a gorgeous chocolate cake, followed by coffee (I had cappucino), little chocolate covered fruit sweets (the waiter insisted that everyone had to take at least one) and finally some liqeur. We all chose a pear one which came from Vorarlberg in Austria. I had to go for that one of course because I used to live there. I was told that the final bill came to over 2,000 euros. Wow! Jan insisted on paying for my share. I have such a wonderful boyfriend 🙂

So that was my posh night out. I would definitely recommend everyone to do it at least once, it’s an amazing experience. And I found out this morning that Baden Baden and Brenner’s Park Hotel are on the list of 10,000 places to visit before you die. Only 9,999 places to go then 😉