The ride into work this morning should have been a real pleasure. The sun was shining, it was a comfortable 15 degrees and the forest trails were all bone-dry so the bikes roll a little easier. I was really looking forward to it. I don’t know why, but Ariane seemed to have her racing legs on this morning and soon overtook me and set a hard pace. Once the precedent was set we got faster and faster. In the end we easily broke our record and arrived a couple of minutes earlier than usual. Walking up the steps to the office, I thought “this is going to be a tough week.” And it looks like I was right.

But first, let me update you on Mothers’ Day. Yesterday was an altogether more relaxed affair. We had a late breakfast, enjoyed the garden for a while and in the late afternoon headed down to a rooftop “beach bar” in the middle of Stuttgart. The weather was great and the place was open – unfortunately all the deck-chairs and beachy furniture was taken so we ended up just sat at a table in the sun on a rooftop in Stuttgart. I queued up for cocktails and Flammkuchen (a kind of super-thin pizza, very nice). The kids sort of enjoyed it, but I realised that I was definitely too old for the place. Most of the guests were twenty-something singles taking the opportunity to show their wares for the first time this year. I was the only male in the queue that didn’t have a tattoo and/or baseball-cap on backwards. It’s the sort of place to go with a group of friends, but not really with two kids. Lesson learned.

After that we strolled through the centre of Stuttgart, which was packed. The main square (Schloßplatz) has a few bits of grass in it and there were people sprawled out enjoying the sun. Street entertainers and ice-cream vendors were dotted along the main pedestrian street (Königsstraße) and thousands of people were strolling up and down. It all felt a bit Italian for a moment – albeit with less well-dressed people.

Stuttgart was heavily bombed in the war, but parts of the centre have been beautifully rebuilt and it does have a little flair now in summer. Even in the 15 years or so that I have lived here, the improvement is noticeable. The ugliest concrete monsters from the 60s and 70s have slowly been replaced by decent-looking buildings and there are quite a few pleasant little squares and cafe-filled streets. I made a note to try and sneak off work on a summer morning, buy a newspaper and then wander between cafe stops in Stuttgart city centre.

We finished off our time in Stuttgart by buying ice cream. This took a while because the group in front of us all wanted cappuccinos which the “Barista” made with loving care. “Very clever, that beautiful chocolate powder leaf on top”, I thought. “Now please stop pratting around and get serving the bloody ice cream – it’s hot and there are hungry kids here.”

The cappuccino delay combined with my “I’m too old for this place” epiphany at Sky Beach took the shine off the afternoon. But it got us out of the house and I think the kids enjoyed it. Most importantly, though, Ariane did enjoy it (I just asked her) and that’s what Mothers’ Day is about – isn’t it? Oh, and the ice cream was excellent!

Bis morgen!

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