A photo an hour: 20 May 2017

Saturday was the date for May’s photo an hour link up with Jane and Louisa, and of course I joined in! Some of you might have already seen my day on Twitter, but for the rest of you here’s what I got up to:

9 a.m. Waiting for the kettle to boil. Hurry up, I need a cuppa!

10 a.m. Shower time! I swear I’m going to start reusing shower photos… it’s not like anyone would notice.

11 a.m. Doing a bit of cross stitch while I wait for Jan to go for his shower.

12 noon. Finally out and about! Waiting for the bus from town to leave.

1 p.m. Can you guess where we are?

2 p.m. Checking out another furniture shop before committing to a purchase.

3 p.m. You can’t go to IKEA and not have food! Meatballs eaten, now for Dime cake. Yum!

4 p.m. On the train home with our new furniture.

5 p.m. In town after a very brief stop at home! I left Jan building furniture and came out in search of a birthday gift.

6 p.m. Home again, and there’s just about enough time for a cuppa before heading back out!

7 p.m. On another bus… nice view from the window!

I then skipped two hours because we were at a concert and I didn’t want to start taking photos in the middle of the performance 😉 So…

10 p.m. The Rhine in Basel by night.

11 p.m. Heading home on a very crowded tram! Photo mainly shows the ceiling 😉 (We stopped for a light dinner in case you were wondering why we took an hour to start heading home!)

Midnight. Time to join Eeyore and Nick in bed.

So, that was my Saturday. Furniture shopping, birthday gift shopping and a concert.
Did you do anything nice at the weekend?

 

Stitching for a good cause

Hello everyone! I said in my update post that part of the reason I’ve been quiet on here recently is because work has been busy and I haven’t felt like getting back on the computer afterwards. But the main reason is that I’ve been using up all my free time for something else… namely cross stitching. Only this time it’s not dozens of Christmas cards I’m trying to get finished, but cards for a very different cause…

I first heard of the charity Post Pals about 6 or 7 years ago, thought it was a really nice idea and then promptly forgot about it. When I saw a mention of it again in a magazine recently, I realised that cross stitched cards would be perfect for sending to pals. And now those of you who don’t know post crossing are wondering what I’m on about….

Basically the idea of Post Pals is for seriously ill children to receive some happy mail. Many of them can’t go to school and end up isolated and lonely, so receiving post from all over the world helps them feel connected to other people and makes them smile. Post Pals also encourages people to write to siblings, who often feel overlooked when the ill child is getting all the attention. All addresses on the site are “care of” addresses and the children’s surnames aren’t mentioned, so it’s all pretty safe.

But enough talk… let me show you some of the cards I’ve made so far.

Pirates and flowers and ballerinas, oh my!

One little boy likes tractors and farms, so he got this card:

farm card

I mean, who wouldn’t want a picture of a sheep? 😉

Apparently I like stitching initials… gotta make use of all those alphabets somehow! 😉

By the way, as it happens the pirate and footballs went to boys while the ballerinas, bear, mermaid and lipstick were for girls. All are based on the children’s interests, and soon I will actually be making a unicorn card for a boy and a dragon for a girl… no gender stereotypes here! (It just so happens that most of the boys are not into ballet or butterflies).

I am particularly fond of this next card because I’ve had the book it appears in for ages but never thought I would actually get to stitch it!

Where's Wally card

A couple of birthday cards went out as well:

I thought the little dancing cake was adorable! (Jan’s opinion was more along the lines of corny though…)

And I shall end with one I’m particularly proud of. This little girl is blind, so I found a Braille alphabet and did this:

How’s everyone’s Braille? That says her name! I just hope it’s actually readable… I also stitched the rest using extra thread so it’s nice and thick and can (hopefully) be felt. And if you’re wondering why I bothered with colour… her family aren’t blind and they deserve to see something pretty, right?

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this. No, it’s not because I want you all to think I’m an amazing human being (obviously I assume you already know that 😉 ). This post is partly an opportunity to show you some more of my cross stitching, but mostly to tell you that you too can get involved with Post Pals.

For me, it’s a perfect way of “volunteering”. I don’t have to interact with people face-to-face (scary!) or commit to being somewhere on specific days (I never know I’ll spontaneously have to work longer because something urgent has come in), I get to stitch new and different things, and I hopefully brighten the day of somebody who is so much worse off than myself. Every time I read a child’s story on Post Pals, I am reminded that whatever else may be going on in my life, I am actually incredibly fortunate to be living the life I do.

If you would like to get involved with Post Pals, all it will cost you is the price of a stamp. (Okay, an envelope and paper are involved too, but I’m sure you must have some of those to spare at home!). Just go to the website, click on Find Pals and choose a pal to write to. You can search by interest or just choose somebody at random. They even have a guide to writing post to help you work out what to say. Or, if you prefer not to write, you can always donate – they are currently organising a party and have an Amazon wish list of items they would like or you can just donate money.

So, what do you think of my cards? Any favourites here?

(By the way, can someone who is good at taking photos of cards please tell me your secret!)

The books I read in April 2017

One of these days I will get round to writing a post that isn’t part of a link up. Today is not that day… I am linking up with Jana and Steph to tell you what I read in April.

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I read ten books in April, which is actually one more than I read in March. That surprises me considering I didn’t finish a single book after 20th April! So somehow I managed to read ten books in twenty days. Some were pretty short though.
The books are listed here in the order I read them, not according to any kind of scheme.

Carbonel: The King of Cats by Barbara Sleigh –  This is a cute little book from the 1950s about a girl called Rosemary who wants to help out with the family finances by cleaning houses, so she buys a broom… and with it comes a cat. To her surprise, she finds out that she can understand the cat when holding the broom. The cat turns out to be a prince and Rosemary spends the rest of the book trying to help him get his throne back. It’s a very cute, quirky little book. There isn’t a huge amount of action, and it’s kind of old-fashioned, but it’s the kind of book I would have loved at age 9 or 10. Four stars.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. This book sounded really good and I expected great things from it, but it turned out to be just okay. A lot of it was totally unrealistic – particularly the friendship at the centre of the plot. Having an instant friendship connection with someone? Okay! Immediately abandoning everything else and only being there for you new friend from then on? Yeah, right! At least it was a quick read. Two stars.

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery – The further I get into this series, the more preachy the books seem to become. This one seemed to be full of “God is watching you! ALL THE TIME!! He already knows you’ve been naughty, probably before you even knew you were going to be naughty, so you’d just better say your prayers and ask for forgiveness RIGHT NOW young man!!” As an atheist, the idea of a God who is just sitting there waiting for you to make a mistake doesn’t sit well with me – and I’m sure that isn’t the God most Christians believe in! I preferred Anne when she was still a schoolgirl and did silly things occasionally. Now she’s far too good. All the proposals got a bit much as well… I lost count in the end. Obviously Anne is perfect and every man who sets eyes on her wants to marry her! I did enjoy it though – I wish I had had friends like Anne’s when I was studying! And I loved the part where she went back to the house where she was born – it was nice to see a bit of a connection with her pre-orphan past. Four stars.

A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler – This had been on my shelf for so long that I had almost forgotten I had it! It’s an interesting take on a “time travel” book – what would you do if you were taken forward in time by a year only to find that tragedy had struck and you relationship with your best friend was ruined? From an adult perspective, it’s all maybe a little simplistic, but it’s perfect for the 10-13 age range. I also felt that Jenni was portrayed realistically. She matured over the course of the book (as you would with so much going on!) but throughout I could believe that she actually was a 12-year-old girl and not a much older teen. I often find that 12 year olds in books read more like 15 or 16 year olds! 4 stars.

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R. J. Palacio – After loving Wonder, I couldn’t wait to revisit that universe with this short story collection. However, while Wonder was amazing, this book was just okay. The first story, from Julian’s perspective, was good. It was nice to see events from his point of view and see him portrayed as something more than just “the nasty kid”. The Charlotte and Christopher chapters seemed unnecessary though and didn’t really add anything to the story. Three stars. (The Julian chapter alone would have been a four, the others probably a 2 or 3).

Die Stille Braut by Barbara Wendelken – Need to up my German reading game 😉 This is a typical crime novel. A body turns up at a lake, which turns out to be that of a deaf girl who disappeared from near her boarding school four years earlier. She turns out to have died of untreated appendicitis (so no “murder” as such), but the police need to find out who took her and kept her hidden for so long. Overall, it was a decent enough detective story and I didn’t guess the whole story of whodunnit. The main character annoyed me though – I wanted her to stop thinking about men/when she had last had sex and get on with her job! Three stars.

Two Truths and a Lie by Sara Shepard – Book three of the Lying Game series. They are getting better as they go along. There is less suspense in this one, but a few interesting things come to light. At the end of this one I still had no idea who the murderer is! Four stars.

Hide and Seek by Sara Shepard – Book four of the Lying Game series. I actually enjoyed this one, but how long can the author keep dragging this out… picking a “suspect” for Emma in each book only for her to end up being wrong, again! Immediately after reading this, my GoodReads review said “I’m starting to wonder whether Sutton was even murdered at all. If the solution to this whole thing turns out to be a tragic accident I will be so mad!” I’ve now changed my mind… it’s clearly not one of her close friends or family, and I feel like Ethan would be too obvious a choice. So I’m saying right now: Ethan’s mother is the murderer! Same motive as him, with the added bonus of revenge for her little boy. (But maybe I just don’t want it to have been the one person who Emma can interact with as herself and not Sutton?). Five stars.

Märchenwald by Martin Krist – More German, the title means “Fairytake forest”. It’s hard to say what this book is about, since there are various stories that eventually become interlinked. It’s a crime thriller with plenty of action – no time to get bored! Even though it was book 5 in a series, it could easily be read as a standalone and I didn’t feel like I had any trouble understanding what was going on with the detective and his family. I did guess who the culprit was, but that was okay because I was enjoying just reading everyone’s stories. Five stars – best book of the month!

Take My Word for It by John Marsden – I have been waiting to read this book for years, but could never manage to find a copy. Finally it appeared on Amazon for cheap. Yay! It’s a companion novel to So Much to Tell You, which is one of my all-time favourites. This one tells Lisa’s side of the story, and gives another perspective of some of the events in “So Much…”.  This is nowhere near as good as So Much to Tell You, but I didn’t expect it to be. Lisa’s problems seemed petty and silly in comparison, and honestly I just didn’t like her as much as a person – she was kind of boring. I did like the different perspective though, and it was nice to have some blanks filled in. I also liked that this one went on for slightly longer, so we got to see a little of what happened next. Not as fantastic as SO Much to Tell You, but I’m glad I read it. Four stars.

And that was it for April. I started reading Sophie’s World but still haven’t finished it, and I’m still trying to make my through A Sense of Style. It’s interesting, but slow going.

April pretty good reading month overall, lots of high ratings and only a couple of duds.
We’re already 8 days into May and I haven’t started a new book yet, but I have a couple waiting that I’m really excited to read so hopefully I’ll get through Sophie quickly so I can make a start on those.

So, if anyone is actually still here after all that…

Read anything good lately?

Recent doings #17

At the beginning of April I said that it looked like it was going to be the fastest month so far this year, and I was not wrong! How on Earth is it May already?! I suppose all the busyness at work has not helped! Last week I ended up doing overtime because it was the only way to get a job finished that had been re-planned to me because my colleague had too much to do, and tomorrow is my first time to go into the office this month (I now have to go twice a month), which means I’ll be out of the house from 6:30 a.m. until just after 8 p.m. Since I am only actually in the office for 6 hours on those days, in those weeks I have to make up the remaining 2 hours on other days. In other words, every two weeks I work an extra half an hour on four days of the week… and that’s before any additional overtime that crops up just because nobody can ever predict when things will get busy. So, that’s one reason my blogging has been rather sporadic lately. Others included going away for Easter, another friend coming to stay for a weekend, and cross stitching lots of cards. But anyway, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch again, so let me tell you about April’s doings…

whats-new

Reading. I started the month reading a lot and then didn’t finish a single book in the final week and a bit of April! I had read a total of ten books by the 20th of the month though (but still haven’t finished the one I started after that). I will tell you about them soon, so I won’t list them all here. My favourite was a German crime thriller called Märchenwald.

Watching. I bought season 1 of The League of Gentlemen on DVD so Jan and I have been watching that. It doesn’t take up much brain power so I can stitch while I watch. Ah, the video cassettes and landlines. So 90s!

Eating. I had big plans to up my veg intake in April, but then I went to Berlin for Easter and ate all the bad (but tasty!) foods – and yes I’m aware I haven’t written about that yet. Then towards the end of the month Jan was out nearly every evening for choir stuff, so I consumed a lot of toast. May will be better (I hope)!

Visiting. My friend K in Berlin. Also…

Travelling. To Berlin to see K 😉 And to Chur at the beginning of April where Jan had a choir performance (which I didn’t see because I had already watched it in Basel – it was the concert I was at in March, but the people he was staying with invited me to come down for a night).

Berlin
Berlin being all atmospheric with clouds

Hosting. A friend from Karlsruhe who we had invited to come down and see an art exhibition as his birthday present from us.

Looking at. Art in said exhibition. Specifically, it was an exhibition of works by Monet.

Going to. Bern and Fribourg with the aforementioned friend on the same weekend that we looked at the art.

Seeing/hearing. Jan performing with another choir last weekend. Also some choirs/a capella groups in Fribourg. See my April photo an hour post.

Cross stitching. Lots of cards for charity. I promise to explain more sooooon (hopefully I will be better at blogging this month…).

Growing. (Well, hopefully). Lavender, Forget-Me-Nots and some herbs. I could have said planting, but Jan did the actual planting. I just give them water and beg them to grow.

plants
Something is happening!

Buying. Uh, what haven’t I been buying more like! Books, craft stuff, an awesome hat in Berlin (technically Jan bought it for me, but with his German card and the only money going into that account right now is from me… so in a round about way I bought it for myself. Weird!). I also ordered a dress but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Planning. Our summer holiday! We are definitely going to be in Britain and we even know where the first stop will be. Holidays from work are approved so the next step is to book a flight…

Okay, I think that’s all. What have you been doing recently?

Switzerland, two years on

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I meant to write this post yesterday, on my actual two-year anniversary of moving to Switzerland, but work and stuff got in the way and I didn’t get round to it. I’m here now though to say that, after two years, I still love living in this amazing place!

Since last year’s post I have:

Swum in the Rhine three more times (getting braver!).

Attended Fasnacht again, this time including the fire parade in Liestal.

Visited even more Swiss places, including the Rhine Falls, Kaiseraugst, Chur and, just this past weekend, Bern and Fribourg again.

Chur
Chur and mountains

Made two friends. Or at the very least acquaintances. We go to the pub quiz together anyway. (Two friends from Karlsruhe have also moved to Basel, so I now have a whole four friends/acquaintances here!).

Had a lot of visitors, including my mam twice and even my sister! Now I just need my dad to get a passport and come over (then I will assume that the world as we know it is ending).

To sum up, life is brilliant and I cannot imagine being anywhere else right now. We are hoping to stay here for a long time, so fingers crossed nothing gets in the way of that (Brexit…). Happy two years in Basel to me!
Now, maybe by the time I write next year’s post I will have a whole group of friends to tell you about…

A Photo an Hour: 22 April 2017

Saturday was April’s photo an hour date and I decided to join in on Twitter, and now on my blog. If anyone was following along on Twitter, you may notice that some of the photos here are slightly different. That’s because I used my phone for the Twitter photos but these ones were taken with my camera. In the case of the shots taken from trains, the scenery had already moved on by the time I took the second photo 😉

Here’s what I got up to:

8 a.m. Up way too early for a Saturday since we have a visitor coming. Tea is desperately needed!

9 a.m. Feeling more awake after my tea and a shower. Time to decide what to wear!

10 a.m. Jan went to meet our visitor from the train station since he needed to pick something up from a chemist near there, so I did some cross stitch while I waited for them to arrive.

11 a.m. We left the day’s plans up to the visitor and he chose a trip to Fribourg. 11 a.m. saw us on the bus to the train station.

12 noon. On a train,

1 p.m. We had to change trains in Bern, so we thought we would have a walk around there before continuing our journey.

2 p.m. Back on the train, just about to leave Bern train station.

3 p.m. In Fribourg (or Freiburg)

4 p.m. Jan knew some people who were performing in this festival thing, so we stopped by to see some of it.

5 p.m. A break between acts. I thought these lights were really cool!

6 p.m. This is the group where Jan knows a couple of people (they also sing in another choir that he is part of).

7 p.m. Waiting for the train home (or rather to Bern where we had to change again)

8 p.m. On the final train of the day, just about to arrive in Olten.

9 p.m. Time for dinner at the street food festival in Basel.

10 p.m. Still at the street food festival. Meat on sticks!

11 p.m. Back home having a much.needed glass of juice. I was thirsty!

After that we chatted for a while before heading to bed at around midnight. I could have taken a midnight photo, but I didn’t because I already had an even number to end with.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

How was your Saturday? Any interesting happenings?

Friday letters

Friday, Friday, Friday! I am so pleased you’re here! You would think after a four-day weekend I would be happy to do plenty of work this week, but in fact I’m really looking forward to the weekend. That probably makes it sound like I hate my job… I swear I don’t! But I’ve spent most of the week working on a single not all that interesting translation and I could use a break from it. Plus it’s looking like some fun things might be in order this weekend, and who wouldn’t look forward to fun things? I still have a full day of work to get there before that though. So for now let’s have some letters.

Letters

Dear scales. I very much appreciated you’re sticking to the same number despite all my indulgences in Berlin, but it’s been nearly a week now so it would be nice if you could start moving in a downward direction again…

Dear plants. I wish there was some way I could make you grow faster. I’m so excited for you to look all pretty on my balcony.

Dear Easter chocolate. I hope you know how much willpower it cost me to ignore you now that you’re half price in all the supermarkets! Please hurry up and sell out so I can no longer be tempted!

Dear home office. If I were to look up the word “chaos” in the dictionary I’m sure a photo of you would appear! I’m so sorry. One day we will find the right piece of furniture for you…

Dear Switzerland. In 5 days I will have been living in you for 2 years. Time flies!

Right, that’s it for today. Have an amazing weekend everyone!
p.s. Tomorrow is April’s photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa. Who’s playing?