Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Two castles and a cathedral

On Saturday the sun was shining for the first time in what felt like weeks, so we thought we’d better make the most of it and go out for the afternoon (and it’s a good job we did – on Sunday the rain was back!).

I suggested that we could take a trip to Arlesheim in Basel-Landschaft to see the cathedral, which is famous for being the only “Dom” in Switzerland. For those who don’t speak German, I shall explain. Dom means cathedral, and the one in Arlesheim certainly isn’t the only cathedral in Switzerland, but the others are either called Kathedrale – as in the Kathedrale St. Mariä Himmelfahrt in Chur – or Münster (minster), such as the Basler Münster (Basel Minster). Not that I’ve personally ever understood the difference between a minster and a cathedral even in English, but there you have it!

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Arlesheim is a cute little village – well, of course it’s cute, this is Switzerland! I’ve yet to see a village that isn’t cute! The cathedral itself is also kind of cute – it doesn’t look big enough to be a cathedral! But I suppose size isn’t a criterion. I felt kind of bad taking photos inside because everyone else in there seemed to actually be praying. It didn’t stop me though… I just tried to take my photos respectfully.

After visiting the cathedral, which obviously didn’t take long, we decided to try and find a castle that we had spotted from the tram on the way to Arlesheim. It turned out to be very close to the village, at the top of a hill. To get there, we had to walk through the Erimitage (Hermitage), which you would expect to be some kind of religious building where hermits went to be along, but in this case is actually a landscaped garden. Apparently the original garden, which was destroyed, contained things like a suspension bridge, artificial tower ruins and a waterfall. These days, it’s basically a hill with steps that lead through various caves. It still looks pretty cool though!

The castle turned out to be Schloss Birseck. We couldn’t go inside because it’s not open yet (and wouldn’t have been on a Saturday anyway). The opening times are May to October on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

The Birs, by the way, is a small river – a tributary to the Rhine – and Eck (or Ecke) means corner. So presumably the castle is in a corner of the Birs. There’s also an area of Basel called Birsfelden, meaning Birs Fields.

Across the road from Schloss Birseck, we saw a sign pointing to Burg Reichenstein, another castle. After about a 10 minute walk – during which I very much regretted my choice of thick tights and a winter coat (the temperature was more like mid-September than early-February!) – we found this second castle.

A sign on the gate told us that a private function was currently in progress at the castle and only invited guests were allowed in, so after taking some photos of the outside we headed back down the hill via a different route, this time through the woods. My research tells me that, while you can book the castle for events, it’s not generally open to the public. There is a picnic area beside the castle with a public grill for barbecues – you just bring your own meat and (I presume) coal!

On a sunny day, Arlesheim and its surrounding castles are well worth a visit, and there’s even the option of taking a slightly longer walk (about 30-40 minutes) through the woods to visit a third castle – the ruins of Schloss Dorneck in nearby Dornach. In fact, I might even suggest that to Jan as a hike for us at some point…

Okay, that’s enough advertising Basel-Landschaft as a tourist destination for one day ;-) It’s time for lunch!


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Recent doings #2

This is my version of the post that other people call “Currently”. I did one in November, and I decided that it was the perfect post for Kristin‘s new linkup, “What’s New With You”. So what have I been doing recently?

What's New With You
Watching: Farscape. Jan get season 4 for Christmas then we realised we never actually finished season 3, so we’ve been going through that. One more episode to go then we can move on to season 4.
Reading: Well, I already told you I completed the winter reading challenge. I’ve read a few books since then, but right now I’m half way through One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. It started off good, but now I’m not so sure.
Planning: New Zealand, baby! We have a huge list of potential places, now we just need to narrow it down. Which is harder than it sounds!
Cooking: Bulghur wheat and avocado salad for last night’s tea. I’m trying to figure out more creative ways of using avocados since they’re supposed to be sooo good for you, so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears! (Or I suppose all eyes, since I’ll be reading them.)
Eating: Far too much chocolate. Switzerland is very, very bad for my figure (and my teeth)!
Visiting: Museums. Basel had its museums night a few weeks ago and we saw a very interesting exhibition about death and some amazing old maps of Basel, among other things.
Going: To Germany, for work. Tonight.
Celebrating: My 12th anniversary as Jan’s girlfriend! It’s tomorrow, so fingers crossed I don’t get back from Germany too late!

 

What have you been doing lately?


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Laufen, Basel-Landschaft

Last month we decided to go and watch a choir perform at a church in Laufen, which just happens to be the nearest town to where Jan works. I’d never actually been there before, so I jumped at the chance to see where he walks most mornings (sometimes he gets off the train in a neighbouring town since his work is between the two). Laufen is small (population just over 5,500) but it has a very pretty old town, and luckily we arrived for the concert before it got dark. Here are some photos:

The concert itself was in the Katharinenkirche (St Catherine’s Church). No matter what setting I put my camera on, I couldn’t managed to get a decent photo inside. Behold:

Grr, I should be able to use my camera by now!

There isn’t really a great deal to do in Laufen itself so you couldn’t really spend a whole day there, but various hiking routes pass by, start or end there – for example, you could start in Flüh and finish in Laufen, ending your afternoon of hiking with a look around Laufen’s old town followed by a meal.

I’m linking this post up with Monday Escapes (and yes, I am aware that today is Tuesday!)

Packing my Suitcase


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Winter Reading Challenge – final check in

The 2015 winter reading challenge ended last night, so it’s time for my final check in. Aaand… I actually managed to complete it! I finished reading my final book on 24 January, So here are the books I read for the last few categories:

10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (read by Emma from Ever Emma). I read Anne of Green Gables years ago, but never got round to reading any of the other in the series, although I’ve wanted to for a while. So when I saw that Emma had mentioned this in her check in, I decided to take the opportunity. Nothing much really happens in this book, but I enjoyed it anyway. I love Anne and her imagination. I gave it 4 stars.

30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject. Megan said she would be fairly lenient with this category, so I’m hoping my “subject” counts.

Non-fiction book: Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid. Long-term readers may know that my grandad was Ukrainian. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn more about his country, but barely any books came up when I searched Amazon. Then the whole Russia taking back Crimea thing happened and suddenly there were loads of books! This one was actually originally written in the 90s (so why didn’t it show up before?!), but has been updated to include everything up to 2014. I thought it was a good introduction to the history of Ukraine for those who know zero about it (which, much to my shame, includes me!). I also liked that the author was actually there and included a lot of personal anecdotes – I just can’t get on with history books that are all about facts! I gave this one 4 stars.

Fiction book: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. This is a weird book about a Ukrainian writer/journalist who lives in Kiev with his pet penguin. When the book begins, he’s struggling to find work, but then a local paper recruits him to write obituaries… for people who are still alive (so the newspaper has then on hand instantly when they actually do croak). When the subjects of his obituaries start to die, thing begin to get really strange… I actually enjoyed this book, weird as it was. There’s just something about it that makes it fun. And I loved Misha the penguin. 4 stars.

The subject, in case it wasn’t obvious, is Ukraine.

So, that’s that. Now I shall read whatever I want until it’s time for the summer reading challenge.


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Friday letters

The blogosphere seems strangely quiet lately. Or maybe it’s just me? I don’t know.

Anyway, exciting news people… tonight Jan and I are booking flights to New Zealand! We’ve only got about 12 days there, so we need to narrow down what we see a bit. We are definitely going to Roturua to visit my uncle and his partner (and meet my cousin for the first time!) and we’ll be flying into Auckland, where my aunt lives with her daughters and my other cousin, who is her au pair. But other than that, nothing is sorted yet. If anyone out there has been to New Zealand, please tell me your absolute must sees!

And now, letters!

letters

Dear January. Nearly over already? What happened? Don’t tell me this year is going to be another one that’s half over before I can even get my head around the fact that it’s started!

Dear little birds. I love watching you on the balcony when I’m having my morning tea break. I just wish you wouldn’t get scared when I enter the dining room. I promise, I have no intention of opening the balcony door!

Dear BBC Big Read. Why are so many of the books on you so long? I recently received The Magus and it has 667 pages! (Maybe this letter should have been addressed to the people that voted on the books. Doesn’t anybody like normal length novels?!).

Dear New Zealand. If we get the flights we want, in just 50 days we’ll be on a plane to you! We really must get planning.

Dear Swiss health insurance. I’ve had you for 7 months now and I still don’t understand you! All I know is when I go to the doctor, I will be receiving a bill for a lot of money! So why do I have health insurance again!? (Alternative letter: Dear NHS. I miss you! People who complain about you should try living abroad for a while!).

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope your weekend is a happy one.


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A New Year’s walk

Not much has been going on recently, hence the lack of blog posts. Luckily I still have a few things to write about from back when I was too busy cross stitching to even think about my blog…

On New Year’s Day, it actually stopped raining for a change (although it was cloudy), so after a large brunch we decided to take our friends out for a walk. First, we went to Bottmingen, a fairly nondescript small town just outside Basel, but which has a castle (not really a castle as such, although that’s what it’s called. It’s more of a huge house, surrounded by water. It’s now an expensive restaurant). I took photos of it from every angle – it seemed to deserve it!

Did you spot the photographic evidence above that the castle’s haunted? No? How about a closer look:

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Even closer…

No, I don’t know either! Maybe left over from Halloween?

Continuing our walk, we spied a little kitty in the undergrowth on a hill:

Those photos were the best I could get – it wasn’t all that keen on coming to say hello (probably because there were 9 of us!).

Jan and I then decided that we should continue our walk by going to a water tower that’s on a hill above Basel, called Bruderholz. For the price of one Swiss franc, you can climb the tower and see Basel and its surroundings.

It was cold and windy at the top, and by the time we had walked back home we were all ready for a nice cup of tea! It was worth it though, for the fresh air and the view.

I love where I live!


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Friday letters

This week has confused me by being both really slow and really fast at the same time! I’ve spent most of it completely confused about what day it was. I’m not confused today though… it’s most definitely Friday, and that means letters!

Letters

Dear birds. I’m glad you seem to like your feeders and the seeds we’ve been putting out for you. It’s cold out now, so eat up!

Dear cactus. Sorry I over watered you yesterday. My hand slipped. Please don’t die!

Dear new cabinet. I can’t wait to fill you up with all my cross stitch supplies!

Dear Dylan Moran. Our tickets have arrived and we shall be at your show on 30th January. Woo hoo!

Dear boyfriend’s work. Hurry up and approve his holiday so we can book flights. Don’t you know we’re planning the trip of a lifetime? ;-)

Have a great and hopefully not too cold) weekend everyone!

 

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