Beer garden @ Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen

Before I start to write about our last German supper at their beer garden, let me fill you in with the history of this hotel. I still regret about not doing any homework before visiting this amazing place which resulted in me not allocating enough time to explore the hotel and its surrounding area.

Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen was mentioned by the chronicler Franz Xaver Staiger in 1863. He recorded that the placed was called the “Gasthaus zum Schwanen” and it was built in 1665 as a monastery guesthouse of the Cistercian monastery.

Reichsprallat Anselm II Schwab, one of the abbots of the monastery Salem who was portrayed in 1749 by Gottfried Bernhard Göz in front of the Imperial Eagle…

Once upon a time, it was a monastery wine tavern and pub, and now, the place is a restaurant with a beer garden for the locals and visitors…

The beer garden was half-filled with guests who seemed to be enjoying a long summer evening with a lively conversation and glasses of beer.

Mum and I sat ourselves down at one of the tables and ordered beer…

Ahhh, how much we loved German beer! They were well chilled and rich without being too bitter. A perfect accompaniment to alfresco dining.

The menu was brought by a waitress who spoke very limited English and their menu was described in German only. Hmm, what should we do? We looked around and found two diners nearby who were eating something looked tempting. ‘Let’s try what they have!’ I pointed at their table and gestured to the waitress. She, in turn, nodded and disappeared into the Kitchen.

While mum and I waited for our food, we sipped our beer and reminisced about our road trip. ‘Can you believe this beer garden is the last German beer garden of our holiday?’ We couldn’t help getting sentimental.

Then, the foods were brought to our table…

Mum had “Gebratene Schweinefilletmedaillons an Pfefferrahmsoße mit Eierspätzle und einum gemischten Salatteller” – fried pork fillet medallions with pepper cream sauce with egg tender pasta and mixed salad dish. She wanted spätzle because there would be nothing like it in Japan.
My last German supper was “Maishähnchenbrust an Rosmarinrahmsoße mit Basmatireis und einum gemischten Salatteller” – corned chicken breast with rosemary cream sauce with basmati rice and mixed salad dish. I hadn’t had rice for a long time, therefore, I enjoyed it very much.

While we were dining, we saw more than a few cyclists riding out from the gate nearby and were very intrigued by it. Maybe we should investigate what is behind the gate after dinner, we discussed as we chewed through our food…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Exploring Reims 

We arrived at our first continental city, Reims, around 1pm. The journey on A26 was very smooth and we found the hotel without much trouble.

Our abode at Reims…

The only food we had so far was coffee and pastry at Folkestone, therefore, we were rather peckish. ‘Shall we find some grub?’ Mum and I hit the town centre of Reims.

At a statue we found on Place Drouet d’Erlon…

We sauntered Place Drouet d’Erlon towards north and decided to have lunch at Restaurant L’Edito. The thoroughfare was lined with various cafes and restaurants, and was reasonably crowded with the people who were enjoying sunny Friday afternoon. ‘Let’s sit outside and enjoy people-watching!’ So we sat at one of their table along the promenade.

Mum opted for seafood paella…

And I picked salad with roast chicken…

It was rather breezy and a little on the chilly side as the recent heatwave was yet to develop over Europe which made me regret about ordering a cold salad instead of hot food!

After lunch, we went to look for the famous cathedral of Reims.

We found a cute merry-go-around by a local church…

Mum’s knee seemed to be ok so we walked slowly towards Rue du Trésor from which we approached the cathedral.

The spire of the cathedral soaring towards the sky…

As a cathedral, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims is not as high profile internationally as namesakes in Paris and Strasbourg. However, the church is the place in which the very first king of the Franks, Clovis was baptised by Saint Remi in 498. Since then, 29 kings of France were crowned at the cathedral between 1027 and 1825.

Another famous character of the cathedral, Jeanne d’Arc…

This brave woman liberated the cathedral from the English and helped the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on the 17th July 1547.

The window of the Baptism was adorned with stained glass window created by Marc Chagall…

I was rather surprised by the relative newness of the stained glass windows. Having said that, France, especially northern France, went through lots of wars throughout their history, and therefore,  something as fragile as stained glass surviving from the medieval time without restoration or being replaced would be too unrealistic to expect.

A magnificent rose window above main doorway…

Having a last look of the nave…

The west side of the cathedral…

On our way back, we dropped in Monoprix nearby and bought some snack and water. I urged mum to rest her back as the longest drive of our road trip awaited the next day…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Twinkle on Kensington Church Street

Ouch! I poked my eye with my finger accidentally as I was hastely applying eyeshadow over my left eyelid. I knew nothing good would come out if things were done in a hurry. However, I was way behind the time and panicking! Ohhhh, I’m gonna be late!! I kept on muttering the same phrase over and over, like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. The appointment with my hairstylist was at 1pm, and I was running late. If I didn’t hit the pavement in 15 minutes, I wouldn’t be able make it on time. Of course, I could go with my face make-up free. But then I would have nothing else but my bare face to stare at in the mirror for a couple of hours. The thought of it made me shudder. Ugh…

Anyway, Bella and I were on Kensington Church Street last Thursday. The weather was exceptionally mild and pleasant, and we were in the mood for a long walk.

Kensington Church Street, which connects High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate, is well known for expensive antique shops. The thoroughfare is lined with shop windows in which one can gape at amazing treasures and relics from the past…

Ahhh, it’s like visiting V&A and British Museum…

My girl Bella was not into antique, apparently…

Cuddle me! Carry me! I’m not interested in old stuff.

Oh Bella, you’re so disrespectful.

She doesn’t give a damn, evidently.

Some shops didn’t weather the post-Brexit climate very well. I saw gutted shop interiors, and it made me sad…

Once upon a time, I used to come to the street three times a week in order to help out a shop which sold vintage prints. Being an art student, I was very good at cutting cardboards for framing, so I was in their basement studio, wielding a Stanley knife and sticking prints with special glue. During my lunch break, I usually sauntered towards Notting Hill Gate and gazed into the shop windows along the street. There were two particular shops I was fascinated with but never dared to enter.

They were Mrs Crick’s Chandelier Shop and Denton Antiques. Today, they are still very much in business and I am very happy for them!

The shop mistress of the print shop was a spinster and a tough taskmaster who was not into small talk. During our rare moment of chatting, I mentioned about how I was taken by the beauty of the chandeliers and my desire of owning one one day…

She looked at me with amazement at first and asked me if I knew how much they costed. Those shops never displayed any ticket so I had no idea how extraordinarily expensive they were.
‘I think you will change your mind if you are told how dearly just one crystal from those chandeliers costs.’ She left me very red faced.

She could have corrected my ignorance a little more kindly, I reflected on as I gazed at the crystals…

I used to wonder who would buy such an opulent light fixture like this for their home. Industry tycoons? Arab royalties? The crystals twinkled behind the window pane right in front of me. But the monetary distance between us seemed to be a light year away.

Now decades later, I live in a flat with ceiling height high enough to hang a proper chandelier. Do I fancy one now? I look around and ponder. Probably not. Our decor won’t go with it, and Hubbie will never agree to have one as he hates any period style older than the 50’s.

By the way, another fixture of Kensington Church Street is The Churchill Arms

I love this pub. They are one of those old-fashioned English pubs with great decor. They also serve delicious Thai food and welcome dogs – very important!

Ok, Bella. Our next destination is Kensington Gardens. Allons-y!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Winding down

Bella was playing with an empty Bi-Facil bottle, and I felt blissful, sitting down on a sheepskin rug and watching her.

Things are definitely winding down. How nice.

During this holiday, I am gonna get stuck into a book, The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History…

While munching on my favourite treat…

Orangettes covered with dark chocolate! They are so divine, and I can’t stop eating them. There is one huge regret this Christmas though. I forgot to order my another seasonal favourite, marron glacé. I really miss the teeth-aching sweetness of the chestnut! Ahhh, l may have to run to F&M tomorrow…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Middle Temple

Always, one step away from the past.

That was what I thought when I stumbled into Middle Temple Lane by accident one day. Bella pulled me into the street as she followed some scent (fox’s may be?) and as she dragged me further down the narrow street, I discovered another facet of London which I never knew it existed.

Middle Lane Street is on your right, next to The Fleet Street Press Coffee…

It was amazing to realise that perpetually busy Fleet Street was a stone’s throw, yet, the air hang above Middle Temple Lane was so calm and orderly…

The place was far from deserted as every window of the buildings was brightly lit and squares which used as a car park were brimful of cars.

However, the area was so quiet as someone had hushed the entire place up.

Welcome to The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, more commonly known simply as Middle Temple…

Middle Temple is in the heart of the legal district of London, where, historically and presently, is the prominent centre of English law. The name of the area is derived from being in the close vicinity of Temple Church, from where the famous Magna Carta was reluctantly issued by King John in 1215. The church was originally built by the notorious Knights Templar as their headquarters, and the place  was closely related to a few Plantagenet royalties.

OMG, this place is dripping with history! It’s so my kind of place!! I was trembling with excitement. Then, I realised that I was with Bella the Pup who probably wouldn’t be welcomed by the church. Oh well, some another time I shall come back alone…

Most of the entrances to the buildings were adorned with the nameplates of QC (Queen’s Counsel) and barristers…

Time to time, flurries of activities broke the silence. Smartly dressed young people whispering and scattering autumn leaves under their feet as they pushed archive boxes laden on two wheel dollies, and disappeared towards the direction of the Royal Courts of Justice near by.

Soon, the leaves settled and the quietness returned to the square…

Do dogs live in Middle Temple?

A sign was there to forbid Bella from entering Inner Temple Gardens. Oh well, never mind.

Row after row of beautifully maintained buildings…

The place was just great to amble around. The scenery in front of me probably hasn’t changed much since the 17th century, I marvelled. The thought made me want to take up the famous diary of Samuel Pepys, which I abandoned halfway through, once again. Am I seeing what he saw? The idea truly excited me.

There was another place I would love to visit one day…

The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts. Obviously, not for the wrong reason though. I definitely don’t want be in their dock!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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