Wednesday, 26 October 2016

For a Change...

... I was away on a weekend not for pleasure & leisure, but for work. Well, not exactly work, but work-related: Earlier this month, I attended a conference for Data Protection Officers, which is what I do for a living (not attending conferences!).

In order to get there, I had to ride on three different trains. The journey went according to schedule, but took me 3 1/2 hours whereas by car, it is just under 2 hours. Never mind - I am used to it, and at least everything was on time!

The small town of Bad Windsheim (another "Bad" after my two posts about Bad Wimpfen!) is in Bavaria, not in my home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. To be more precise, that part of Bavaria is Franconia. People there speak a different dialect than in other parts of Bavaria, and it prides itself on its unique culture and history (doesn't every region?).

Anyway. Bad Windsheim is picturesque, and I did get to see some of it on my way from the train station to the hotel and back on the next day. But it was very cold that weekend, so cold that it stopped me from going for a proper walk when I had about an hour's time between the end of the conference and my train.

The hotel was clean, the food was really good, and staff were friendly and helpful. My room had a definite 1980s-90s look and feel to it:

During the night, the pipe between the sink and the wall in my bathroom developed a leak. When I went to the bathroom the next morning, I found about 1/3 of the floor under water! Good job my room was laid out for two people but occupied only by me - I had plenty of towels which I used to keep the water in check until I was ready to go downstairs for breakfast (and the second part of the conference) and could tell the lady at reception about the leaking pipe.

From my window on the 4th floor, I saw this:

The statue next to the church is "Roland". He was put there as a war memorial (for those who died in WWI) in 1928 and is 8 m high. I looked at him again at night before I went to bed and am sure he silently walks the old streets of his town in the dark.

The conference was interesting and conversation during the intervals and at meals was good. I arrived back home around late on Saturday evening, glad all three trains had, once again, been on time for the trip back.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Read in 2016 - 38: Color Tour

Among the many good reads I have come across on my rather (but not completely) indiscriminate spree of downloading free ebooks from Amazon's kindle shop was "Color Tour" by Aaron Stander. (I'm itching to write "Colour Tour", but the title is really spelled "Color", as it is by an American writer.)

It is the 2nd of (so far) 8 mysteries featuring Ray Elkins, sheriff at a small community on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Ray comes across as level-headed and deeply caring about his home town and its people. He is single, middle-aged, and has a thing for great cheeses, oils and wines. There was a woman living with him, but their relationship gradually shifted to being good companions without the excitement of romance and love, and she has moved away to be closer to her new grandchildren, feeling her family now needs her more than Ray does.

A young couple is murdered on the beach, the woman having been a teacher at a nearby boarding school. Rays investigation leads him deep into the close-knit world of an elite private school where teachers, students and staff are together almost 24/7, with all the conflict and issues people can have with each other in such an environment. Throw in a load of teenagers with raging hormones, some teachers with alcohol problems, budget worries and internal politics, and you get an explosive mixture.

This wasn't an instant guess; for a long time, I did not know who the murderer was and how everything was connected. The only thing I found rather foreseeable was the development of a new romantic interest for Ray, but that wasn't overdone and not unrealistic.

The school and its surroundings, Ray's house, the victim's cottage, the lake - everything is described so well. That includes the people; one can almost hear their voices and see them move.

Links between the community - where most of the staff comes from - and the school itself with its rather elite approach, as well as the complex relationships between colleagues, friends and lovers are explored and form part of the puzzle.

There are a few typesetting errors, but not enough to dampen my reading pleasure. Stander's writing style is good, clear, not too long-winded but still poetic enough (where appropriate) to set the inner cinema in motion.

I didn't know the author at all but have found his website here

From the "about" section, I learned that Aaron Stander has some things in common with several of his characters. He used to be a teacher, lives in the area he describes so well, and shares Ray Elkins' love for kayaking.

Not having read the first book in the series did not matter. But I am really interested in reading more.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Old Houses and Flowers

In my next-to-last post about Bad Wimpfen I said I was going to show you more pictures from this beautiful town. It is raining hard and still dark outside while I am typing this, so a little reminder of what it was like in August is nice.

Be warned - there are lots of pictures; I simply couldn't decide on the ones to leave out, as all these houses are worth showing:

Wimpfeners really take pride in their town; you can tell by how everything is taken care of so well, with flowers and potted plants everywhere.

This one is for my Mum - look what's on the door:

Here's one for Kay:

Phew! Congratulations, if you've made it so far! I promise there won't be any timber-framed houses on my blog for a while :-)