Sunday again. Plans for an afternoon garden get-together were abandoned, for several reasons but the main one was the very changeable weather. Tea in the garden not such an appealing proposition when it’s intermittently pouring with horizontal rain then sunshiny but both unpredictably.
Instead we had a pleasant quiet day. Both of us have more than enough to keep us happily occupied and entertained. Books, photography, cooking, sewing, knitting, listening to the radio. Neither of us tire of these. In between the heavy showers there was an opportunity to pop out to the allotment, just enough time to bring in onions for tonight’s supper, and eggs.
For our Sunday morning trip Malcolm baked some more of his cinnamon buns (I could get used to this) and we revisited several parts of Germany:
- One year we cycled the Rhine path from Strasbourg to Cologne, staying overnight in B and Bs and hotels. We had an extraordinary 2 nights special-offer-bargain stay in a very fancy Rhine castle hotel. They greeted the two smelly cyclists arriving with our bikes and panniers without batting an eye, showed us where to stow the bikes, and had our panniers delivered to our room before we returned to collect them. We had the fanciest dinners and breakfasts ever as part of the package. A very wonderful holiday, planned in part to celebrate recovery from my hysterectomy a few months earlier. We hope to get back to finish the rest of the Rhine cycleway one day soon – from Cologne to Rotterdam (or maybe Hook of Holland).
- Another year we took our bikes by train down to Constance (Konstanz), stayed in a flat, and took day trips out to cycle all the way round Lake Constance (or Bodensee, as it’s called in German). Combined with local ferries and trains, this was a truly wonderful ride and I’d love to do it again. One day we bought a punnet of the very best cherries, picked by one of the allotment holders we were passing. He and his wife had set up a small stall beside the cycle path. Along the way we were in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, crossing invisible borders seamlessly.
- Most times when we visit the Black Forest we take a day out on the train to Freiburg. Freiburg is a lovely city, an example of how a city can reinvent itself as a green city. One suburb in particular (Vauban) is inspirational, and somewhere architects and landscape architects often reference for how things can be done differently/better environmentally. But in truth, when you look closely, I think Vauban both is and is not very different from most places: most of the buildings aren’t clever or fancy, but they were built in discussion with the residents and incorporate sensible features to ensure they are low-energy and enable low-impact living. They have then added greenery and plants that make the place look quite different from anywhere else I’ve been. Cars aren’t absent but are kept in the background, and precedence is always given to people on foot/on cycles/in wheelchairs. This is at the same time depressing (why is it not the norm throughout the UK?) and hopeful (with some simple changes, we could make it happen here!). After our Lake Constance ride we stayed in a flat in Vauban for a week. The dominant sounds were children playing, birdsong, and the nearby trams. If that sounds cliched, I can tell you it was a real delight. A bit like lockdown has been here (sans trams).
Our meal this evening was another German-inspired meal. On our trips to the Black Forest and to Strasbourg we’ve enjoyed the local flammenkuchen (or tarte flambée in France). Kind of like a very very thin pizza, with the topping made of lots of thinly sliced onions, creme fraiche, and some speck. I made the dough using my sourdough starter and rolled it out extra thin. The topping was made from allotment onions, with a couple of rashers of bacon as I couldn’t get hold of any speck. With a glass of chilled white wine, we could almost imagine ourselves there. Even the weather was appropriate (wet, windy and changeable. As it often is there).