It’s the end of the world as we know it…

No Friday letters today, I’m too sad.

I went to bed last night with a shred of hope. That’s now been eliminated. As of this morning, I am no longer a European citizen (okay, not officially yet but in the most important of ways, I’m not). The pound is at it’s weakest level in three decades and continues to fall… and that’s before the market even opens!Scotland are already talking about leaving – for real this time. Even if things somehow magically end up working out without Britain going bankrupt first, it’s clear there’s a massive problem within the country.

On a personal note, I have no idea what’s going to happen to me. I’m assuming (hoping!) that Switzerland will honour the residence permit I already have, so that gives me four years before I have to leave the country. But where would I go? I clearly can’t go home, unless I don’t take Jan with me (the whole point in leaving the EU is to keep people like him out, right? And why would he even want to live in a country where everyone hates him so much?). Which country will still let Brits in after this debacle? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

As for my job… I assume people who are already living in Germany will be given some kind of deal when it comes to getting work permits for jobs they’re already doing. But I don’t live in Germany! Will they want to give a work permit to someone from a non-EU country, living in another non-EU country but wanting to work in Germany? That I’m not so sure about…

No matter what happens, everything will be different now. If only I could genuinely believe that all those who voted out did so because they believe it will make our country better, and not because they believe everything the tabloid press says and want “Britain to be for the British”. Today, I’m ashamed to be British English (Scotland and N. Ireland did the right thing!). If I still lived in Germany, I would be on the phone right now enquiring about German citizenship…

Goodbye, Great Britain. I only hope it was worth it…

New Plymouth, New Zealand

Yes, I’m still going on about New Zealand! Nearly finished now😉

When I left off before, we’d reached the end of the Forgotten World Highway. From there, we drove to our B&B in New Plymouth, which was lovely by the way! I wish we could have had more than one night there. Before going out for the evening we admired the view from the window and took some photos of the birds out in the garden. We were later told that these are Indian Mynah birds.

Our B&B wasn’t directly in town, so we got back in the car to go down to the coast then parked up and went for a walk.

This sculpture is called the Wind Wand:

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Apparently it cost more than 300,000 NZ$. Worth it?😉

We walked along the coastal path for a little way. It was nice to be by the sea.

Apparently I took a lot of photos of rocks? I liked the way they looked with the sea in the background.

The sun eventually started to set, so I played around with my camera settings trying to get some good photos. I should probably know what the two rock formations/small islands are but I don’t. Sorry! *Bad blogger*

We were hungry by that stage so we headed back to a restaurant near where we parked the car. It’s called Arborio and the food we ate was delicious! We even indulged in some nice wine and had desert. We must have been feeling rich😉 I took zero photos of said food though. Again, bad blogger.

The next morning, the sun was rising when we got up for breakfast.

From New Plymouth we drove up to Auckland, stopping at the Waitamo Glowworm Caves on the way. I have no photos from there because you aren’t allowed to take photos in there (and I left my camera in the car so I couldn’t have sneaked any ;-)), but I can highly recommend it! There are glow work experiences of up to 3 hours(!), but we didn’t have that long so we did a 45 minute tour, which involved walking through one cave with a guide followed by a boat ride through the dark to the exit. During the boat ride, you can see all the little glow worms glowing away… like millions of stars on the roof and walls of the cave. A truly awesome experience that was over way too soon!

Again, I’m linking up for Monday Escapes, and I remind you that New Zealand was my #Take12trips destination for March (yes, I’m that far behind on posting!)

Travel Monkey

Friday letters

I know I keep saying this, but where is this year going?! We’re more than half way through June already! Unbelievable. At this rate it’s going to be December and I’m going to realise I’ve achieved nothing all year!

But enough about that… letters!

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Dear weather. You have a week to improve ready for me to show my visitors around Basel!

Dear mam/brother. Speaking of which… one week til I see you! I’m looking forward to it:-)

Dear new wardrobe. Can’t wait for you to finally arrive next week!

Dear scales. I’m still not impressed with the number you’re showing me, but at least now it’s moving in the right direction!

Dear cheese. Somebody posted an article on Facebook recently claiming you had been proven to be addictive. Not sure how scientific said article was but I can well believe it!

That’s it for today. I’m off to the shops to find something for tea. Happy Friday, everyone!

A photo an hour: Sunday 12 June 2016

*I tried to write this post yesterday, but WordPress was having none of it, so let’s try again!*

Sundays are always the worst photo an hour days, mostly because there’s nothing to do in Switzerland. I’m not even supposed to hoover! (Although I sometimes hoover the bathrooms anyway since the fan in there is louder than my hoover and nobody would tell me I can’t shower on Sundays!). So welcome to the most boring photo an hour ever😉

10:30 a.m. Starting the day with a cuppa. One of these days I’m going to start reusing pics from previous photo and hour posts to see whether anyone notices😉

11:30 a.m. Folding some clean clothes. Can’t put them away yet since Jan is still sleeping…

12:30 p.m. Making scrambled eggs for lunch.

1:30 p.m. Herbal tea time.

2:30 p.m. Watching the news (also, I feel the need to point out that I showered between the last photo and this one. I wasn’t smelly all day!)

3:30 p.m. Jan put football on, but this was the match I had least interest in that day (sorry Turkey and Croatia!) so I only half paid attention to it while colouring in my new colouring book.

4:30 p.m. Still colouring, now with tea!

5:30 p.m. Starting to make some healthy snacks for a picnic type dinner.

6:30 p.m. Snacks!

7:30 p.m. Courgette crisps… kind of. They weren’t all that crispy. More experimentation needed. (I suppose you can call them zucchini chips if you like, but I prefer alliteration!)

8:30 p.m. Ready to support Ukraine! (Sorry Germany – I’ll support you again in other matches)

9:30 p.m. Watching football.

10:30 p.m. Football still on… keeping me up past my bedtime. Disappointed that Ukraine didn’t manage even one goal.

11:15 p.m. I didn’t want to wait up an extra 15 minutes for the hour, but I needed an even number of photos😉 Didn’t really know what to take a photo of on my way to bed, so this is my glass of water on the bedside table.

That’s all. Told you it was boring!

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

35 Before 35: Progress report 5

The last time I reported on where I’m at with my 35 before 35 list was my birthday last year! You can read that post here if you’re interested. With precisely two months until my next birthday (33! Yikes!), I thought it was about time I updated you all on my progress. Not that I’ve managed to cross much off entirely, but I’ve at least made some progress on the reading front. Here’s what I’ve done since 13th August 2015:

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I had to go all the way back to the progress report before last to see where I was up to before! I had previously read six non-fiction books, now I’m up to 12. I had actually read Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes, Victorian London by Liza Picard and Dear Fatty by Dawn French last time I updated, but apparently forgot to include them in my progress report. Since then I’ve read Everything You Wanted to Know About Rugby But Were Afraid to Ask by Iain Macintosh (which I actually bought for Jan) and Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid.

 

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

I had read 20 last time, now I’m up to 21. I read Apfelrosenzeit by Anneke Mohn. It was okay but not brilliant.

Number 18: Bake 10 different types of biscuits

Again, I had to go back to the time before last. I didn’t say how many types I’d baked them though, but research tells me it was 4. I’ve since baked Spiced Oat Cookies and Maple Pecan Nut Cookies, which makes six. Four more to go!

Number 20: Attend a World Cup rugby match

My dad actually managed to get us tickets for three rugby matches during the world cup in England, so I’ve more than completed this one!

RWC 2015

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I’ve been trying sooo hard to read Big Read books lately! Last time I was on 13, now I’m up to 27! Not going to list them all here. I’m currently reading The Magus for Megan’s reading challenge and I’m part-way through The Unbearable Lightness of Being as well (started it a while ago), so I’ll hopefully be adding more to the list soon. Still over 100 to go😮

Number 24. Go to 5 different Christmas markets (other than Karlsruhe and Durlach)

So, I originally excluded Karlsruhe and Durlach since I lived there and the idea was to go further afield. Based on the same principle, I excluded Basel last year. But I still managed to complete this item: I had been to two already so Colmar, Rheinfelden and Bern last year makes five.

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before.

I’d managed 18 last time (which was only 2 more than the previous check in). Thanks to a looong flight to New Zealand and back, I’ve actually managed a few more since last year and I’m now up to 27. Woo hoo!

That’s everything this time. I’m not sure I’ll actually managed to complete the list before I turn 35 (can’t see me actually affording 3 OU courses in the next 2 years!), but that’s okay. I already feel like the list has helped me make the most of my time. Next progress report… when I remember!😉

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

No Friday letters today because I haven’t done enough this week to be able to think of any…

This month I am taking part in two reading challenges. One is Megan’s Summer Book Challenge, the second is the #Readmybooks challenge with TexErin, which is exactly what it says on the tin: during the month of June, Erin is challenging people to read only books they already own – no buying new ones or borrowing books from the library or friends. So that’s why I started my summer challenge reading with Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley. It actually moved to Basel with us, so it’s been in my possession for at least a year! Part of the reason I hadn’t read it was because it was on the bottom shelf where my eye tends not to wander as much, but mostly it’s because I kept buying new books that I was so excited about I just had to read them the minute I had them in my hot little hand. I read this book for the category “Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word”, which will be worth 30 points once I’ve read my good-word book (this one was the bad word – sorrow – although it could also have been a good word, since amity means friendly relations).

Amity-SorrowThe plot: Following a suspicious fire, Amaranth gathers her children and flees from the fundamentalist cult in which her children were born and raised. Now she is on the run with her two daughters, Amity and Sorrow, neither of whom have seen the world outside the cult. After four days of driving Amaranth crashes the car, leaving the family stranded at a gas station.

Rescue comes in the unlikely form of a downtrodden farmer, a man who offers sanctuary when the women need it most. However while Amity blossoms in this new world, free from her father’s tyranny, Sorrow will do anything to get back home…

My review: This could have been a good book. The plot sounded really interesting and I actually really liked the character of Amity. She was the only one who actually seemed to develop throughout the book! However, the actual execution of the plot was really confusing. The present day parts were mainly told from Amity’s point of view, and they were mostly pretty good, but then there were flashbacks – either to Amaranth’s time in the cult or to her life before – and a lot of those didn’t make much sense. One particular flashback was presumably supposed to explain why Amaranth got married/joined the cult in the first place, but it really didn’t. (Well, I suppose she didn’t know it was a cult at first? Or she helped found the cult? I never figured that part out). Also, the synopsis on the back of the book says “Amaranth herself is beginning to understand the nature of the man she has left“, well I’m glad she did because I certainly didn’t – other than that he was obviously bad and liked sex a lot? Trigger warning for anyone planning to read it: there is child sex abuse! I gave this one two stars.

Huka Falls/Lake Taupo and the Forgotten World Highway

For our ninth day in New Zealand, we had booked a room at a B&B in New Plymouth. We left Rotorua after breakfast and drove to our first stop of the day, Huka Falls on Lake Taupo. This is not a waterfall in the traditional sense of the word (cascading down from a great height), but a series of small falls in an area where the Waikato River narrows significantly, causing a huge volume of water to funnel through a narrow space. Huka is the Maori word for “foam”.

The falls are a spectacular sight and definitely worth a visit! There’s also a walk you can do around there, but with a long drive ahead of us we didn’t have time. Instead, we drove a bit up the road then pulled over to take some photos of Lake Taupo and the surroundings. Imagine having this view out of your window?

After driving for a bit longer, we spotted signs for the Waituhi Lookout and decided to stop there. After driving up a narrow winding road through some trees, we came to a clearing with a small amount of space for parking and a viewing platform. We climbed up to the platform, looked out over the trees and saw this:

How amazing is that view? I’m so glad I ignored the advice I was given to miss out north island and just spend time on the south island! (I couldn’t have anyway since I actually wanted to see my family and they’re all on the north island!).

The lake in the pictures above should be Lake Taupo again if I’ve got my geography correct.

After another half an hour of driving, we arrived in Taumarunui, which is at one end of the Forgotten World Highway (technically State Highway 43). There, we stopped to buy some food at a supermarket and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a clock:

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Apparently Taumarunui is on the North Island Main Trunk Railway.. hence the train clock, I suppose. There wasn’t a greet deal there though (at least on the main street), but there were free and reasonably clean public toilets and the little supermarket had some food for us, so we were happy.

Back in the car, we drove on into the Tangarakau Gorge. First stop was at the grave of a surveyor named Joshua Morgan who died in the gorge in 1893. Not all that exciting, but from the grace you could see the bridge we had just crossed to get there.

Next stop, another waterfall: Mount Damper Falls. We parked by a sign then had to walk across a field to get there.

The next photos will just be general ones from along the Forgotten World Highway. We stopped a couple of times to take photos but I can’t say precisely what each one is of.

The end of the highway is Stratford. We didn’t actually stop there, but there are a lot of streets named after Shakespeare characters and we had fun spotting them as we drove through. Finally, we reached that day’s destination – New Plymouth – where we checked into a lovely B&B before driving into town for a walk along the coast… but this post has a ridiculous amount of photos already, so I think I’ll give New Plymouth its own separate one!

*New Zealand was my March trip for my 2016 redo of Take 12 Trips*