The thermometer mumbled something about +2°C when I got up, which might not sound like the most pleasant weather for bicycling, but compared with the -1°C I got the previous time, it felt a whole lot warmer. Clear skies and bright sunshine instead of a grey overcast did not hurt either.
I checked the time with my pretty new watch and found that it takes me one hour to get into the city. That includes going nearly to the top of the highest, steepest (well, and pretty much only) hill between here and there, and down steep, cobblestoned old town streets. Still, it's a very pleasant ride (especially when you are not freezing off several parts of your anatomy), mostly level, good bicycle path, OK roads, going through fields and a village or two.
Once in the city, I had coffee in an extremely neat, very tiny place, and then started on my to-do list. I wanted to check out some jeans, because I had promised some folks I'd investigate a new brand. Next on the list were, get an old pocket watch evaluated, eat junk food, see if I could get a skinny jeans at a bargain price, and attempt to get a certain black mini skirt for future choir performances. Points #1 to #3 went just peachy, the others, not so much.
I tried on some jeans I would never buy, made notes, and went on to more interesting tasks.
That watch is in the centre of some family drama. Low-key family drama, as my grandparents' generation has laid claim on all the high drama, and my parents' generation cherishes a quiet life. But this takes place at a generational intersection. My grandfather, the story goes, got a golden pocket watch on a chain from his parents when he finished school (or uni). He kept it on his desk for for as long as anyone alive can remember. When he died, he left it to my uncle. However, between his death and the reading of the testament the watch disappeared into a drawer, and there is some doubt if the watch that re-appeared (sans chain) was the same one that went in. As I do not have a dog in this fight, I said that I'd investigate. Online searches had come up blank, so I had found a jewellery shop that was doing evaluations. The shop owner was nice in a grumpy old-man way and estimated the watch at the expected age, but as gilded or gold-plated, not golden, and not worth much. So, the uncertainty remains, and no one wants the poor old watch. If the watch was running, it would be fine with me. As it isn't, I wonder if I should get it fixed.
Next to the junk food. I had been craving fried chicken for a week and even bought an incredibly bad fried turkey sandwich from the bakery next door to my place of work. So I wanted to use the opportunity and stuff myself at KFC. I liked it a lot better than I thought I would. They had real plates and bowls and cutlery, local mineral water, and all the fried chicken I could eat. Mission accomplished, craving gone. The secret to fighting temptation is to know when not to fight.
I should have gone home then, but I didn't because I still had two items on my list, and that part of the story is both boring (even for me) and frustrating, and I'd rather forget it. Should have bought books instead.
Going back took 70 minutes, because I had a noticeable headwind.
I was on the road at 10 am on Sunday and got to Plankenfels before 11 -- comfortably in time for an 18 km walk which my book listed as "five hours something". It included four hilltops, three of them very scenic, two times going up from valley levels, and a lot of walking over open fields in the spring sun. In summer, the lack of shade would have been a bug, at this time of year it was clearly a feature.
As usual, I had to stop to get my breath quite often when going uphill -- one reason I prefer hiking alone. The views were as spectacular as one could have hoped for, all clear spring air, valleys starting to green, and ranges upon ranges of hills until they were blending into the sky. I had a picnic on the Wachstein (Watchers' Hill) the second peak, after that the track went back into the valley, to Obernsees and it's spa.
This time I had a coffee there, though even the non-pool side of the café smelt of chlorine. But I really needed a coffee. However, barely 20 minutes later I came to the "Knockhütte", a small wooden building raised on stilts high on the hillside, where I could have got coffee for half the price in a much nicer place. Really nice, I learned that it is possible to rent it for events, and now I wonder if I feel like arranging an event.
And more open fields on hilltops, covered with so many pale white stones that it looked like a cover of late snow, and then downhill for the last time into Wohnsdorf. The last few kilometres would be level, my guidebook said, and follow a brook. Well, it didn't *exactly* lie. It was 20-metres-up, 20-metres down, and as the river had flooded recently and winter's damp had not yet dried under the cover of the trees, the path was muddy and soggy the whole time, made worse by some heavy machinery which seemed to have done clean-up on the flooding but left tire tracks a foot deep. Signs of flooding were everywhere, deep, clear puddles between the trees and sandbanks on the path. Finally the woods receded and the path moved into a flat valley. Some old locks reminded of how the meadows along the brook used to be watered. The locks stay for people to look at them, but the barrages have been filled up into tiny rapids, so that fish and crabs can travel upriver.
I met a walker who looked like a school teacher and insisted on discussing early spring flowers with me (a topic I am regrettably clueless about), and then got back to my car. I had met very few people on the whole walk. No one on the peaks, a handful at the Knockhütte, a few people walking their dogs near the villages. However, driving back every parking space was crowded with cars, looking like, as R___ had memorably put it once, "a plague of beetles". Usually, when you drive back from the hills on a sunny weekend afternoon, you end up in a 5 km traffic jam. But I was early. The five-something hour walk -- picnic and coffee, mud and all -- had taken me hardly more than four hours. Little wonder that I get out of breath when going uphill! I had considered having dinner (or at least coffee) in the local pub, but I wasn't even hungry, and not even especially tired. So there was no traffic jam, and I was back home before five.
Spent the rest of the day hanging out, doing nothing especially noteworthy. Played with the cats. Tully attempted to purr but didn't quite figure out how to do it. My physical energy level is perfectly fine. It's the mental one I'm worried about.
The rest of the week
Monday evening we were playing RPG. I was little grumpy, because my eyes hurt (90% that I'm allergic to my hair gel. Which is very annoying, because it makes my hair look great. But I need two ibuprofen to think of anything other than the pain. Not good.) I also ate nearly all of Snow's leftover Christmas cookies, and Ceridwen's dessert. ("Get it away from me! If you want any of these cookies, get them away, now, OR I WILL EAT THEM ALL!!
I found out the reason for the cookie monster moment when I went to the gym on Tuesday. Over the previous week, I had lost two kilos, and that was after the cookie binge. So much for not shrinking anymore. I declared it a "re-feed the lyorn" week.
I had pasta with salmon on Thursday, ate the last of the potato bread with cream cheese and fried bacon on Wednesday, and on Thursday left work early to go for ice cream, buy that stupid skirt that I had been lusting for for two weeks (long story tying into Sunday's frustrations, and involving me being unfamiliar with my current clothing size, again), and then had a late dinner of veggies fried on olive oil, topped with a spicy curd cheese cream. And today there's going to be pizza.
Salmon pasta: Cook pasta, strain, put pot back on stove with a little oil, fry veggies, add can of salmon and some cream cheese, heat until cream cheese is melted, add pasta back in.
Fried veggies: Cut up a bunch of seasonal veggies as if for a wok (i.e., the harder the finer), put in a bowl with spices, herbs and olive oil (no salt yet), let it soak for half an hour at room temperature. Then dump into a large pan and fry until done. Salt afterwards.
Spicy curd cheese cream: Mix three tablespoons of curd cheese, one tablespoon of yoghurt, a few drops of olive oil, a little sweet balsamic vinegar, and one or more clove(s) of garlic, chopped and crushed. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and hot red pepper. Give it at least fifteen minutes for the tastes to blend.
And now it's nearly weekend again -- not one day too soon.