Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Meadows, Trees and Churches: Part II

After our picnic in the meadow close to the wood's edge, it was only a short way to the next village. It was of the relaxed quietness you sometimes find on a Sunday afternoon - it was Thursday, but a holiday. We met one man and his dog, with the dog being rather curious about us, and passed by a house where swallows had built nests under the eaves. They were flitting in and out, and I took pictures, but they came out blurred and so I left them out.

Another village or small town I had never set foot in before, Schornbach, was down in the valley after a relatively long stretch of road. It had some very pretty old houses, like this one:

The church was built in 1471 and is unusual in that the upper part of its bell tower is of wood. Again, we would have liked to have a look inside, but again, it was locked.

Schornbach was not our goal, and we walked on, down into the valley and towards Schorndorf.

Schorndorf (Dorf means village) has made the transition from village to town already as far back as 1250, when the then Earl of Württemberg acquired the place and had it built up with walls. But it had already been a settlement a thousand years before that, when the Romans occupied this part of the world and civilians lived there in the 2nd and 3rd century of our time.

Nowadays, with around 40.000 inhabitants, Schorndorf is a thriving town with a picturesque centre. I had never visited before, but my sister did, and she showed me around before we sat down for refreshing drinks at a street café.

 Old town centre - no cars allowed in this part, what a relief!

The sturdy castle was built in 1538 and withstood any threat that came its way, including a fire in 1634. Nowadays, it houses offices and the civil court.

Building of the church (you can see it in the first picture of the old town centre) began in 1477. And guess what - this one was open! My sister wanted to show me something special, and after a general look round, we arrived in a small side chapel with this unusual ceiling:

It is Jesus' family tree, starting with Jesse, out of whose body grows the root of the tree, then grows on and on, via David all the way to Mary with baby Jesus. The figures all cary bands with their names on them.
The Tree of Jesse is taken directly from the bible and appears not only in sculptures and on pictures in (mostly) medieval churches, but also in a few songs, one of them an old Christmas song still very popular in Germany, but I dare say most of those singing the words do not really think about what they may mean; they sound just beautifully old-fashioned and festive. Well, now you know!
You can find out more here on wikipedia.

Nowadays, with around 40.000 inhabitants, Schorndorf is a thriving town with a picturesque centre. I had never visited before, but my sister did, and she showed me around before we sat down for refreshing drinks at a street café.

By the way, the most famous person from Schorndorf is Gottlieb Daimler, the man who invented the car (it wasn't quite so simple, but you get the general idea). His birth place is now a museum.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Meadows, Trees and Churches: Part I

The 25th of May - a Thursday - was a holiday here in Germany. The weather was fine; sunny without being too hot, and so my sister and I decided to go for a nice long walk.

We took the train to a small town called Winterbach, about 30 km East of us. Before starting on our actual walk, we had a quick look around the beautiful old church. It would have been nice to see it inside, too, but as is so often the case, it was locked.

There has probably been a church in this exact spot long before the current building was dedicated in the year 1309. Of course, the church has undergone renovations and alterations over the centuries that have passed since then (for instance, lightning hit the bell tower and burnt it down in 1644, and in the 1750s, the good people of Winterbach became modestly wealthy and spent some of their money on extensive renovations), but it is still very obviously very old.

Some typical buildings for this part of Germany, and a maypole:

We left Winterbach (literally "winter beck")  and started our walk in earnest.

About an hour later, we arrived at the other end of the woods among more meadows and orchards:

Time for a break - a picnic on the grass, before walking on towards the next village.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Pub Quiz

This is not the first time I am mentioning pub quizzes on my blog - you can easily find my older posts by putting "Pub Quiz" in the search bar on the top left corner.
I can not remember exactly when I started going to the quiz at "my" pub (Ludwigsburg's Irish Pub, Towers). It must have been 2008 or 2009, and although our team has changed a little over the years through circumstances - one member moving back for good to the US, while a new member joined us for the first time earlier this year - we are still pretty much The Corner Shop.

We nearly always end up among the first three and have come out 1st a few times. All of us would like to play more often, but it is difficult to find dates when everyone can make it. The quiz is held every Tuesday night, with a long break over the summer and a shorter one around Christmas. We manage to play maybe two or three times during one season.

This season ended last night - and we ended it on a high!
Only three of us managed to make just one point less than the winning team! (We still did not come out 2nd, but 3rd, since there were two teams competing for 1st. And I will now forever remember how many letters there are in the Hawaiian alphabet!)
So, VERY well done us!!!

At first, I was rather put off - although I had booked well in advance, our usual corner table (hence our team name) had been given to someone else; two of our team could not make it, and there was no ginger beer for me, only ginger ale.
But once the questions started and we realised we were not doing so bad, my mood lifted, and walking home with yet another bottle of champagne was a very good end to the evening (and the season).

We'll be back for more in September :-)

Do you want to have a go at those questions I can remember?

1. How many letters are in the Hawaiian alphabet? (That was our draw question.)
2. Where on the human body would you find a hallux?
3. Which is the biggest lake in Africa?
4. What is the name of the most famous beach near Sydney, Australia?
5. In which state of the USA do you find the town of Stuttgart?
6. Which river crosses the equator twice?
7. What body part is affected by the disease hepatitis?
8. In which movie would you hear the phrase "Chewie, we're home!"?
9. What two nations share the island of Hispanola?
10. Which sport returned to the Olympic Games in 2016 for the first time since 1904?
11. In which European country do you find the resort town of Sopot?

Monday, 12 June 2017

Looking My Age

It's been years (5 1/2, to be precise) since I last wrote about the topic of self-perception and how it differs from what others see when they look at us. If you are interested in my 2011 post about the topic, click here.
Maybe this post from two years ago is also interesting in context.

A few weeks ago, I had an appointment at a photo studio where all sorts of professional photos are taken. People go there when they need pictures to apply for a job, for a new passport, or simply for fun; they can have their pictures taken either as a family, couple, group of friends or on their own.

Last Christmas, my parents gave me a voucher for a photo session at that studio. I was unsure what to do with it, as I do not currently need pictures for any particular reason. So I simply went there to see what was going to happen.

The very young lady who was "my" photographer took about 15-20 minutes to apply make-up. We had agreed on a simple day-make-up, nothing too over the top, no smoky eyes or any particularly fashionable stuff. She chose lipstick and eye shadow for me, and soon we were in the room with the lamps and different wall backgrounds.
I gave her free range, since I had no particular wishes. She was quite happy to let me try various postures in different lights and in front of several backgrounds.

About a fun half an hour later, our session was over. She let me choose my favourite pictures out of the 60 or so she had taken, and showed me which one was her personal favourite of the set.

I am not unhappy with the results, but I agree with my sister, O.K., RJ and others who have seen the photos and said I look older in them than usual; the general agreement seems to be that I look my age.

Well, I have wrinkles - perfectly normal at 49 -, and I agree that I do not look like this normally; for one thing, the only cosmetics I own and (occasionally) wear are lipstic, mascara and eye-shadow. No make-up or "foundation", as it is often called.

Now I wonder what you think. Also, have a guess at which was the photographer's favourite, which one my Mum chose to have framed, and which is the one I personally like best. And no - this post is not really about vanity. It is out of a genuine interest in the topic of self-perception v. how others perceive us.