All of this week, we've had sunshine and temperatures up to 20 Celsius (68 F) - in other words, wonderful spring weather. Friday was chilly and grey, and for the weekend, more of that chill and grey was forecast, as well as some (badly needed) rain. But when I got up yesterday morning, it was yet another sunny day; there were, admittedly, some clouds in the sky, but it hardly looked like what I had expected after the forecast. So I rang my Mum to see whether she was in the mood for going to the castle grounds with me, and we decided on the early afternoon, so that we would both have enough time to get things done at home (my weekly cleaning of the flat, mainly; it doesn't take very long because the flat is small and uncluttered, but it wants doing nonetheless).
You have seen pictures of the castle grounds last summer here on my blog; now let me show you how different it looks in the spring, when a lot of the flowers are just coming out and most of the trees and bushes are still without leaves:
The nice thing about going to the park on a Saturday is that there aren't that many people there; usually, the average family here is busy with getting their weekly groceries shopping done, washing their car(s), sweeping the pavement (maybe some of you have heard about the Swabian Kehrwoche) in front of their house, and so on. On a Sunday, we usually avoid the park, especially when the weather is good; we then leave it to the busloads of tourists who are very welcome to enjoy the beauty of it all, and leave some money here while they're at it :-)
After we'd been walking around and looked at all the miraculous progress the flowers and plants had made, we both felt like having a little rest. There are several places dotted across the vast grounds where one can have a proper meal or just a snack, a drink or, like we did, some cake and coffee or tea.
We chose the "Cafeteria am Rosengarten", a place that prides itself on freshly made cakes, fair trade coffee, friendly (albeit a bit slow) service and a beautiful view of the rose gardens (provided the roses are in bloom, which of course they are not just yet).
My Mum had strawberry cake (its wonderful scent filled the room) and I went for the redcurrant one with the lovely baiser (meringue) topping, it was delicious! Instead of coffee (we'd had one earlier at a little stall just after we had arrived at the park), we were happy to find pumpkin secco (a kind of sparkling wine on the base of pumpkin juice, very fruity and summery, we love it!) in the self-service drinks fridge next to the counter, and had that to go along with the cake.
How cool is that - sitting with one's Mum on a sunny Saturday afternoon in a beautiful castle garden, sipping sparkling wine?!
For our way out of the park and back into town, we chose a different route and went through the inner courtyard, pictures of which I posted here in November.
Right in the middle of the courtyard is a fountain, its basin being the permanent home of some very old and very large carp (I am not kidding you if I say they are about as long and as big as my thigh), a handful of goldfish and a sturgeon who comes up to the surface sometimes and does not mind being tickled above the nose. Today, though, the sturgeon kept out of sight, the carp were swimming their silent rounds, and this friendly pair of ducks were quite eager to see whether we had any bread for them. We didn't, but they were still polite enough to pose for a picture.
As you can see, the sun was as good as gone by then, and we went back into town, and I was home just a little before six, when a few drops of rain fell - not enough for what our fields and gardens really need right now, but enough to want to be inside.