Some days ago, or weeks rather, on one of these greyish autumn weekends, I visited a castle nearby in the beautiful region of Münsterland, a castle not so much known for its architectural significance, although having been around since the 11th century, the “new” main house with its splendid black and white shutters was built from 1540 to 1545, and not a single one of its many stones has ever crumbled, it’s only known for one of its residents, Baroness Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, a well known German author from the early 1800s. On January 12th, 1797, Burg Hülshoff was her place of birth, just imagine, at that time, in the late 1700s, the castle had already been over six hundred years old. Six hundred! The Frankfurt apartment my parents lived in when I was born, was merely 80 years old at that time and was already considered Altbau, meaning old architecture. I’m a sucker for tradition, as you might guess… Anyway, besides all this history and ancient glory, besides the little neo-Gothic chapel added in 1880, just imagine having your very own chapel to pray in, just like the marchioness of Brideshead in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, what struck me most was the moat the castle is surrounded by. All that peace and quiet, protected by ever so tranquil a moat. Not even the ducks that are to be spotted here and there dare to make any noise. I really need one, too.
We’ve been enjoying a wonderful summer this year, I must say, lots of hot days to be peacefully spent in our garden, having an equal lot of cold drinks with another lot of ice cubes in’em, who can abide a lukewarm gin and tonic, I ask you, and finally, lots and lots of roses to marvel at, smell, and fall in love with. I’m quite passionate about them, I guess you’ll see why, in all the forty-two pictures I’m going to share now…
39 degrees Celsius, this could be the name of a new diet. I’m serious. “The 39 Degrees Celsius Diet.” This summer’s day inspired me to it. Who wants to eat something out of an oven when you feel like being stuck in one yourself? Who wants ice cream for dessert that will melt on its way to your place at the beautifully set table in the garden just to ruin the festive atmosphere? Who wants red wine that just won’t uphold its cellar temperatures but cannot be served with ice cubes, either? Nobody. Consequently, we decided to skip all meals until temperatures will reach again some agreable 25 degrees or so, and judging by today’s weather forecast, that will probably be some day in late September. Well, what can I say, we’ll be ever so slim by then…
It was not a typical day to be spent outside, the weather forecast for that day had insisted on us staying in, it was really rainy and windy, puddles all over the place, leaves everywhere, but we felt like catching some air in the garden, it was neither the perfect place to have crêpes, the table was ever so wet and quite dirty, too, nor the perfect time, it was way too close to dinner, we’ve had tea hours ago and so we were about to ruin our appetite, but however more of a hindrance than an invitation the moment did appear to us, we couldn’t help ourselves and have crêpes, drenched in sugary Cointreau, right that moment, right then and there… Boy, were they yummy!
The minute temperatures start rising, our dining table falls into some kind of hibernation – is there actually a term for hibernating in summer? It can’t be summernation, that sounds like a Tommy Hilfiger fragrance. Anyway, we declare the sombre mahogany totally useless, and adjust ourselves to teak. From then on, we not only have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the garden, we also prepare the meals outside, at least any part of the dish whose prepping doesn’t require gas or running water and allows us to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine alongside cutting, peeling, trimming, snapping, or whatever you do with it. Asparagus, green and white, but the white ones especially, is the best example, peeling those bastards is such a pesky business, it makes you want to employ a cook, for my sake even with a staff of her own, but since nobody can no longer afford servants, we have to blame socialism, no doubt about that, we have do to such things ourselves, however tedious. But when sitting in an apple tree’s shade and sipping some red wine, the whole undertaking suddenly makes you feel blessed. And while I’m peeling away another spear’s tough outer layer, I hope autumn will come late this year, a week before Christmas will do.
The best thing about having a garden is having an apple tree in that garden, especially one that carries Boskop as these are the best for baking apple cakes. They’re slightly sour which presents a nice contrast to the sweetness of the dough and wonderfully aromatic. We had lots, this year, and thus we had to make a lot of apple pies, and apple cakes, and apple tarts, and apple jalousies, and, well, you get the point, don’t you? What’s second best about having an apple tree in your garden is the fact that you really know every single apple growing on it is as organic and as healthy as it possibly gets. So, here’s to you, good old apple tree of mine!
I guess, when you’re a king, you won’t ever have to built a single castle in the air, instead you might even built them out of thin air. Just for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha-ha. To be fair, Frederick the Great built some of them, like the Neue Palais, for other reasons, for real statesmanly reasons like entertaining other kings or have a ball with diplomats, ambassadors, and such, but Sans Souci, he did built for nothing but pleasure. In winter, the joyfulness of it all might be less visible, but the architectural finesse of the ensemble is to be experienced at its very best.