In my last post I spoke of the altweibsommer or Indian summer, those final precious warm and sunny days before Summer hands us over to Autumn and the sometimes more challenging weather conditions that come with it. This weekend past , the weather gods smiled kindly upon us and blessed us with a perfect altweibsommer day . Think bright sunshine, blue skies and temperatures back in the high teens ,so the family and I decided to make the most of it and head out into the countryside.
We drove out towards Etteln, to a farm café or bauernhofcafe located just outside the town. Etteln is one of those places that isn’t really so far from us, but feels like a different world….particularly as whichever way you approach it you drive through some stunning rural and wooded landscapes and down increasingly narrow roads (always fun in a huge American car) prompting me to ask the husband repeatedly is he sure this is actually a road? really sure? Is he sure we’re going to fit down there? He always says he is sure, I’m not always convinced. But he got us there safe and sound, so who am I to question.
Arriving at the farm cafe, we went straight for a look at the tiny chapel. These are a bit of a thing in Germany .We actually have one a few minutes walk from our home, and you often seem to find them on or by farms, although I’m not sure if that’s coincidence or purpose. The one we visited dates back to 1677 and was built to honor St Lucia. When I say tiny, I mean it, I think at most you’d fit maybe twelve worshippers in there. Despite the beautiful day outside, it was see-your-breathe cold inside. Even if you’ve no religious bent yourself, these little chapels are a lovely place to pass a few quiet, reflective moments. This one had the most beautiful Altar and stained glass window which, looked amazing highlighted as it was by the sunlight streaming in. One of the nicest things about the place was that it was clearly still in use, beautifully preserved and maintained.
Leaving the chapel, we followed a path that led to a look out point. The whole area is good for walkers and cyclists of all abilities. Beware , though, that not all walks are circular and some follow historical pilgrimage routes and so are pretty lengthy. We , having the younger ones, decided just to do a small section of a walk up to the viewpoint and back. And this is where I get to the ladybirds as mentioned in this post title.. The place was plagued with them. Literally, in their thousands. In the air, on the rocks, on the trees.This is a phenomenon we have experienced before in Germany. They seem to be attracted to certain types of wood or stone but they were really everywhere. When we reached the viewpoint , and stood still , we were all covered within minutes. Ladybirds, ladybirds everywhere…in our hair, on our clothes, on our bags. And although ladybirds are, I guess, fairly likeable as beetles go, it did leave me feeling a little itchy! The children were pretty fascinated though.I’m guessing its just one of natures little quirks.My husband did point out that the twice we’ve experienced this ladybird overload, its been in places possibly associated with death, the first time being in a war cemetary….but that was too grim a thought for such a sunny day!
The viewpoint was called the Devils Stone. Divided opinion on why it is named so when I researched it out of curiosity. Some sources attribute the name to being connected to the witch hunts that plagued the area in the 1600s (something I intend to look further into) and some sources to the tale of a shoemaker who tricked the devil. The story goes that the Devil was en route to Aachen to destroy the Cathedral when he met a shoemaker who, on realising what the Devil was up to, managed to trick him into throwing down his stones….one of which is now known as the Devil stone. Of course, other sources think geographical movement and the ice age and all that business created the landscape and the name is neither here nor there, but I think that a rather dull explanation. Whatever created the rock and however it came about its name, the view is a knockout and worth the walk.
We rounded off our walk with a visit to the cafe.Set in converted farm buildings, it really is a lovely little spot. Aside from the café selling a very nice range of snacks and drinks ,we also found a range of animals to feed and pet and a lovely play area for younger children. Adjacent to the café and easily accessible, we also discovered a dried up river bed that made an amazing natural adventure play area for the young and the young at heart. It was really nice to see so many families making the most of the lovely weather , I think we all need a little more time unplugged and outdoors!
Until next time,