December 2018

One day I might go back to my recent doings/currently style posts, but for now I think I’ll stick with a rambling review of how I spent the previous month. Maybe I’ll add in some “recent doings” posts at random in mid-month? Anyway, for now let’s talk about what I did in December. Advance warning: this will probably be long.

Linking up with Kristen, of course, to talk about what’s new with me.

whats new with you

I will mainly be talking about the weekends since that’s when the interesting stuff mostly happens. Plus Christmas, obvs.

Jan came back from his three-week orientation in the US on 1st December. He arrived in the late afternoon, so before that I spent the day doing some necessary shopping and making Christmas cards for Post Pals children. I totally forgot to mention in my November recap that we finally got a shelving unit for the home office right before Jan left (it actually wasn’t supposed to arrive for another week so score on that point!). We put it up before he went away – by which I mean Jan mostly put it up with a little help from me (in fairness I was working at the time!) – so during that first December weekend he sorted out some of his stuff that needed to go on it, which involved unpacking two boxes that had been in the spare room this whole time. Yes, I am aware that we moved here 3 and a half years ago. *Shame* There are still two boxes in that room.  I need to work out what’s in them…

Xmas card

The second week in December Jan had concerts. By which I mean he had a rehearsal in Zurich on Thursday evening, a concert in Bern on Friday, a concert in Basel on Saturday and a concert in Zurich on Sunday. There were three choirs involved, one each from Basel, Bern and Zurich, hence the performances in different cities. We also had visitors that weekend, a friend from Karlsruhe and her boyfriend, so I hung out with them while Jan did choir stuff. And of course we went to see Jan perform on Saturday evening.

The following weekend was concerts again… with a different choir this time and only in Basel – one on Saturday, one on Sunday. I went to see the Saturday one. You can see what else I did that day in my Photo an Hour post, if you’re interested. That weekend, another blogger was in town… Jordan from Wayfaring with Wagner (check out her blog… she takes the best photos. Honestly, I defy you not to want to visit places after seeing her pictures of them). We met up for breakfast and then took her on a whirlwind tour of Basel, including a trip to the Christmas market. The place I had originally suggested for breakfast was full so we ended up going to Markthalle, which ended up being an excellent choice. I will definitely be having breakfast there again! (Hoping the Z’Morgeland brunch buffet is a regular thing!).

Bloggers in Basel

The weekend after that was the one before Christmas. Jan was invited to a birthday party in Geneva on the Friday night. For those who aren’t familiar with the geography of Switzerland, Geneva is at the other end of the country. I mean, it’s a small country, but that’s still a three-hour journey. I had the day off because I had appointments at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and working in between only to have to rush off again seemed silly. Jan was at work though, then he went  straight to Geneva so I didn’t see him that day. I finally posted my final parcel of Christmas presents to England (which of course meant those family members did not have anything to open on Christmas Day. Oh well… extended Christmas all round!). On the Saturday, I continued my pre-Christmas clean then when Jan arrived home shortly after 2 p.m. we went to buy a Christmas tree, brought it home and then decorated it. The living room looks so pretty with the tree lights on and I’m always sad when it has to be taken down. On Sunday, the 23rd, Jan slept late while I continued cleaning. I finally got round to cleaning the oven… a task that I’m sure would be much easier if I did it more often! Then in the late afternoon we went to visit my dad’s cousin, who lives in Germany, about a 40 minute train ride from Basel. His parents (my great aunt and great uncle) were visiting as well as his wife’s parents, and they also have three kids so they had a full house! It was an enjoyable evening and we had baked potatoes for tea, which is always certain to make me happy 😉

Christmas tree 2018

On Christmas Eve, I spent the morning pottering around, drinking tea, scrolling through social media, reading a bit. At 1 p.m., just as I was putting my coat on to go for a walk, Jan got up (to be fair to him, he had been up at 6 a.m. to go jogging then gone back to bed). He claimed he had stayed in bed for that long because he had a headache, then said I should have woken him and he could have gone for a walk with me… but when I pointed out later that if I had woken him he would have just said he had a headache and not got up he agreed that he probably would have. Anyway… I went for my walk then stopped by a supermarket for some last minute bits… milk, clementines, that sort of thing. In the afternoon we watched Santa Claus: the movie, which I hadn’t seen since about 1992! Dinner that night was Bratwurst and potato gratin. Then we opened our gift from Jan’s dad so Jan could thank him when he called. Jan phoned his parents and we watched Only Connect (a quiz show, for those who don’t know). Then it was off to bed.

Bruderholz Basel

On Christmas morning we were both up by 9:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right! After a cuppa followed by breakfast (bread rolls and jam), it was time to get down to the serious business of opening presents. Between us we got 3 films and 4 series for Christmas so we won’t run out of things to watch any time soon! After presents came showers, then we both headed out for a walk. We stopped by the cemetery to say happy Christmas to the boys then went and visited the cows at the farm. Then we headed back home to start making Christmas dinner, which Jan ended up doing most of because my dad called part way through. Beef, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon) and honey roasted carrots and parsnips were consumed. And gravy, of course. After dinner, we watched some TV, tried out a game that Jan had received for Christmas, spoke to my grandma on the phone and finally ate some Christmas pudding that my dad’s cousin had given me.

baby calf

On Boxing Day (26th December for those not in the know ;-)) we decided to get a car and go for a drive. We went to Murten near Fribourg, a small town with a very well-preserved town wall and beautiful old streets. After a walk around the town and along the parts of the wall you can access, we headed to a pub for a dinner of delicious Flammkuchen. Back home, we drank hot chocolate and watched The Big Bang Theory.

Jan was back at work on the 27th, and although my office remained closed until after the New Year, it was still back to reality for me. First a trip to the post office to pick up a parcel I had missed, then shopping, cleaning and laundry. I also made chicken broth for tea and it was delicious. While Jan was at work again on the 28th, I cleaned the kitchen and went into town before taking a train to Zurich so he could show me his new place of work. The next day was Saturday and we took a trip to IKEA where Jan bought containers for storing all his cables and I attempted to buy a mini set of drawers but failed because they had sold out. I did, however, manage to get a frame which we later used to frame a jigsaw puzzle (now hanging up in the spare room) and of course we consumed Swedish meatballs while we were there. You can’t go to IKEA and not eat the meatballs! On the Sunday, the 30th, I don’t think we did anything much. Watched Big Bang Theory and had cottage pie for tea… that’s about it.

And finally we come to New Year’s Eve. We had invited a friend over to eat raclette so while Jan worked (from home) I went out and bought all the necessary ingredients. Our friend had been in Finland for the holidays and was returning from Hamburg, where he had spent the night. First his train was delayed leaving Hamburg and then there was an accident between Offenburg and Freiburg so it was just after 11pm by the time he arrived at our place! It would have been later if he’d gone home first, but we told him to just come here with all his stuff and stay the night at our place. This meant we literally ate our way into the New Year, which is just fine with me!

We had a nice, quiet festive period, which was exactly what we wanted, and have already managed one day trip in 2019. And today it’s back to work and back to reality for me. Only two days until the weekend though… I’m sure I can cope with that 😉

And what’s new with you? I hope you had a good December. Come join the link up and see what everyone else got up to over the holidays.

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A Photo an Hour:15 December 2018

On Saturday, I took part in the final photo an hour of the year, hosted by Jane and Louisa. I had decided it was going to be the day that I finally got the last of my Christmas cards sorted, but I also wanted to clean the flat and had a ticket for Jan’s concert in the evening. So much to pack in to one day! Here’s how I got on…

9 a.m. We had no milk so my first act was to jump in the shower before heading to the shop.

10 a.m. Showered and milk purchased, now I can have a cuppa. Yay!

11 a.m. A busy week of work with lots of overtime plus one day in the office in Germany meant my kitchen was severely neglected and I had dishes to wash…

12 noon. Finally getting round to stitching and making the final few Christmas cards.

1 p.m. Cross stitch made into a card. Hoorah!

2 p.m. Another cuppa while writing out some of the cards I’d made. The ones in the background were waiting for Jan to sign them.

3 p.m. Jan signed the cards and I started putting them in envelopes.

4 p.m. Another card made!

5 p.m. Jan left for his final rehearsal and I got the hoover out. Also, how pretty are my slippers?

6 p.m. Cleaning the bathrooms, but I need to head out soon!

7 p.m. On the way to watch Jan’s concert. Terrible photo taken through the window of a tram.

I missed 8 p.m. as the concert was in progress.

9 p.m. Concert over, still in the church waiting for Jan to grab his stuff. Martinskirche, if you’re interested.

10 p.m. We went for food. By this stage it had all been eaten and I was finishing my wine before we got the bill.

11 p.m. Home and having a hot sage and honey drink to warm up… it was freezing on Saturday!

I was tucked up in bed by quarter to 12 so no more photos needed to be taken and symmetry in my blog post is preserved 😉

I did, in fact, manage to get almost all my cards made, written and addressed. Only my dad’s remained to be sorted. And I did quite a bit of the housework I had planned to get sorted, although putting away the washing ended up being a task for Sunday evening. (And I still haven’t cleaned the oven). All in all a productive day.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope you all had a lovely festive weekend.

A Photo an Hour: 28 April 2018

I meant to write this post yesterday, but clearly I did not. But today is a holiday (May Day) and Jan is too busy to do anything with me so I actually have time to resize all the photos. Here’s what I got up to on Saturdays photo an hour day.

10 a.m. Making breakfast… porridge and a cuppa.

11 a.m. Helping Jan look for a receipt he needed to pick up some trousers he was having mended. It turned out to be very sensibly on the notice board… where neither of us had thought to look!

12 noon. Starting some cross stitch, even though I was missing half the colours I needed.

1 p.m. I had a shower and now the walking shoes are on because we’re off out.

2 p.m. On the smallest bus ever!

3 p.m. After a half hour walk through the woods, we’re at St Chrischona!

4 p.m. We walked around the woods some more then stopped for a beer.

5 p.m. Heading home… waiting for a tram.

6 p.m. Back to my cross stitch.

7 p.m. Jan was off to a barbecue, so I heated the oven ready to make my dinner.

8 p.m. Finally food! If I’d realised it needed so long I would have started earlier. (Also, I slightly overcooked it, but it was okay)

9 p.m. I started a jigsaw puzzle while I was waiting for dinner and continued after I ate.

10 p.m. Still puzzling. Got a bit further.

11 p.m. Time for  bed, where Eeyore already awaits.

And that was my Saturday. I hope you all had a good one!

If you go down to the woods today…


Es war einmal
“Once upon a time…”

No, you won’t see any teddy bears… not in these particular woods anyway! Last year, at around this time, we wanted to do something on a sunny day that just happened to also be a public holiday in both Germany and Switzerland. I had read about a fairytale sculpture trail in some nearby woods, so we hopped on a tram to Reinach and went exploring.

The sculpture path originally opened in 2005 with 12 sculptures. More were added in 2008, 2009 and 2011, for a total of 46 fairytale characters by 22 artists today. Obviously the later ones are in better condition than the earlier ones. Some of the sculptures represent specific fairytales that I recognised, some are Swiss tales that I didn’t know and others seem to just be general fairytale themes, for example a palace or witch that didn’t seem to be from any particular story.

fairytale palace

The palace above is actually a marble run, which is pretty cool. We found a marble on the floor and managed to give it a go. Then, later on the trail, we found this:

We spent quite a while playing with it because… well, you just would, wouldn’t you? So fun!

Poor Puss in Boots appeared to have fallen victim to a madman with an axe, and Pinnochio had lost his famous nose completely. Does that mean he had been telling too many truths? Telling tales unnecessarily, perhaps?

We found Red Riding Hood, hiding from a rather young looking wolf.

I immediately recognised the following sculpture as a mirror and assumed it was SNow White, but its sign informed me it’s actually Momo’s mirror. Momo is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, which I started reading ages ago and never finished so I’m not sure where the mirror comes in!

Momo's mirror

Of course, no fairytale trail would be complete without an actual fairy!

fairy sculpture

We didn’t bring any food with us, but there is a picnic area in the woods including a place where you can “grill” over an open fire. The sculpture trail is only in a small part of the woods, and there is also a nature trail throughout the whole thing – the signs are only in German but I’m sure you can still have a nice walk. The photos I’ve shown here are, obviously, just a few of the sculptures. There are plenty more to discover. I can recommend this to anyone visiting Basel who has children or – like me – just loves fairytales!

To get to the sculpture trail, take tram number 11 from Basel to the stop called “Reinach Süd”. The start of the trail is a short walk – about 10-15 minutes. Follow signs for “Schulhaus Fiechten”.

A Photo an Hour: 20 January 2018

Despite having seen the reminder the day before and even mentioned it to Jan while out in the evening, I managed to forget about photo an hour day! Luckily I checked Twitter at noon and saw the posts so I was able to still join in, albeit a few hours later. I only missed two hours though, and those photos would have been tea and cross stitch so you didn’t miss much. Here’s the rest of my Saturday:

12 noon About to heat some bread rolls in the oven for brunch (although Jan then ended up deciding he was too hungover to eat his and going back to bed…)

1 p.m. Time for a shower. Yes, so late. No judging! Also this photo shows how much lime scale is on my shower head. Again, please don’t judge.

2 p.m. Boots on as I’m heading out to buy a birthday present

3 p.m. Haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, so across the river I go to check the shops on that side of Basel. As you can see, the weather was not the best.

4 p.m. Found what I wanted, now on the tram home.

5 p.m. Time for a cup of tea and to start a new book.

The book was so good that I missed my 6 o’clock photo. Ooops!

7 p.m. Deciding what to make for dinner since it was just me eating (yep, Jan was still hungover…)

8 p.m. Nearly finished eating. Not shown: the book that I continued reading while I ate. (I finished it at 8:30… for everyone who has ever asked how I get through so many books, there’s your answer. Most people socialise on weekends, I read or cross stitch.)

9 p.m. Making a birthday card for my grandma

10 p.m. Pyjamas on – time for bed.

And that was my Saturday. How was yours? As always, Photo an Hour was hosted by the wonderful Jane and Louisa.

Expat Qs

Has it really been an entire two weeks since my last post? Wow… sorry. I didn’t mean to stay away that long. I am juggling so many things right now and blogging keeps getting pushed further down my list.
Anywaaay… I stole this post from Kristen because I thought it might be fun and an easy way to get back into blogging. I hate being called an expat (please don’t single me out from other “migrants”!) but didn’t have an alternative title, so it stays.

1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I was born in Aldershot (“Home of the British Army”) and I guess grew up there, in Northern Ireland and in Northumberland – although, when does the “growing up” stage finish? I was a teenager by the time I moved up North…
I currently live just outside Basel in Switzerland.

Basel
Basel town hall

 

2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY

Originally university. I was studying German and a year in a German-speaking country was a requirement to get my degree. I met Jan there, and after 2 years in a long-distance relationship decided to move back to Germany. Such a cliché.

3. WHAT TYPE OF REACTIONS DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU ARE FROM?

It varies. “What brought you to Switzerland?” mainly. A lot of people ask whether I work at Roche or Novartis (two pharmaceutical companies that are the main employers in Basel, particularly of “expats” – ugh, that word again).  When I lived in Germany I occasionally got “Do you really put vinegar on your chips?”, and people would ask why Karlsruhe of all places (I guess most Brits go to Berlin or Munich).

4. WHAT WAS THE EASIEST/HARDEST PART IN ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

To Switzerland? It wasn’t actually that hard because I’d been in Germany for over 8 years and Basel at least is quite similar to Germany in many ways. So I guess that was the easiest part? Going back to not understanding people was difficult – Swiss German is hard! Just yesterday a neighbour came and spoke to me while I was doing laundry and I only understood about half of what he said.

5. IMAGES, WORDS OR SOUNDS THAT SUM UP THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.

Are we talking my entire expat experience? As in Austria, Germany and Switzerland? Because that’s a lot! But as Kristen said, my life here is just life. I work, I shop, I cook, I do laundry just as I would anywhere else. I guess regularly speaking two languages is different, and we eat food that isn’t available in England (and, conversely, don’t eat other food because it isn’t available here). So I guess speaking German and food are my  words? Here’s an image that seems to fit:

fondue

6. YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD OR DRINK ITEM IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY

Oh wow, that’s difficult. Maybe Rösti? Although I rarely eat it because I’m too lazy to make my own 😉 For drink I guess some local beer? I can’t think of anything else that isn’t available elsewhere… oh, except some fizzy pops like “Rivella” and “Flauder” (I do like that second one) but I rarely drink pop soo…

7. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU SAID “YES” TO IN YOUR NEW CITY THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY “YES” TO, BACK HOME?

Umm… I have no idea? I probably wouldn’t have gone hiking at home but only because I would never have had Jan to drag me out 😉

8. ARE THERE ANY CULTURAL NORMS/PHRASES IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY WHICH YOU CANNOT STAND?

Quiet hours! In Switzerland, the law states that from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. plus all day on Sundays and public holidays are “quiet hours”. During those times you are not allowed to do anything that makes a noise… so no hammering/drilling, no hoovering (vacuuming ;-)), no doing laundry, no mowing the lawn, no playing instruments. And, of course, no using the glass recycling bins. In our building, you are actually not supposed to drill/hammer after 6 p.m. and hoovering and instruments are banned after 8 p.m. (Drums are banned at every time unless in a sound-proofed room). I understand the night-time quiet rules – those with kids especially probably appreciate it being quiet when they’re sleeping – BUT WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO DO MY HOUSEWORK?! The lack of recycling annoys me as well, especially coming from Germany where practically everything gets recycled! Ooh, and I hate that practically everything is closed on Sundays. I mean, I’m used to shops being closed on Sundays after Germany, but finding a café or restaurant that’s open should not be as difficult as it is! As for phrases… I guess that question assumes I live in an English-speaking country?

9. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST DOING IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

I enjoy going down to the river and just sitting… I love having the river flow right through town. But that’s a Basel thing, not a Switzerland thing. I also enjoying travelling and exploring Switzerland, but I also did that in Germany and would do it even if I lived in England. Umm, does that answer the question in any way?

basel-rhine

10. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER MOVE HOME FOR GOOD?

Nope. A few years ago it might have been a possibility, but after Brexit no way. Why would I want to live in a country where half the population have said my partner is not welcome? And by extension my future kids who will be way more German than British. Of course, Brexit may end up being the reason I am forced to move home if the “hard-Brexit” brigade gets their way…

That was the last question, but I hate to end on a bad note so I would like to add that I love living here and it feels like home more than any place has ever felt like home in my life (I mean, Karlsruhe felt like in the last few years there – and is still the place I’ve lived the longest in one stretch ever – but I felt an instant connection with Basel that made me wonder what I ever saw in Karlsruhe). It’s only been 2 and a half years though, so who knows what the future will hold…

A photo an hour: 17 June 2017

I know what you’re thinking… wasn’t it only just photo an hour day? (That’s what I was thinking when I saw Jane’s reminder anyway). Actually, it’s been almost a month since the last photo an hour link up! To be precise, May’s photo an hour was precisely a month ago tomorrow. 2017 is definitely going too fast!

Anyway, for those of you who didn’t follow along on Twitter, here’s what I got up to on Saturday.

10 a.m. Obviously I started my day with a cuppa. I could just reuse the photos from previous months for this! (But I didn’t. Last month’s was different – see.)

11 a.m. Time for a shower. In an effort to make things different, I took a photo of the shower curtain this time.

12 noon. Off to the post box with this pile of happy mail.

1 p.m. Finishing off a birthday card to be sent to a Post Pals sibling.

2 p.m. Finally quiet time is over and I’m allowed to take away the recycling! (I feel like I should point out that this wasn’t all drunk at once!)

3 p.m. Back from recycling and the supermarket. Time for a tea on the balcony.

4 p.m. Housework – boring but necessary. Emptying the dishwasher.

5 p.m. Once you start it’s never ending! After sorting the dishes I hoovered and now I’m sorting clean laundry.

6 p.m. Off into town.

7 p.m. A choir Jan sings with was having a CD launch party and I was on my way there. Crossing the Rhine.

8 p.m. Beer in a fountain. How else are you supposed to keep it cool?

9 p.m. Drinking beer! They’re not both mine…

10 p.m. Still at the launch party. Candles on a table.

11 p.m. Waiting for pizza and it was too dark to photograph anything but this lantern!

Midnight. Waiting for a tram home. The building is part of the art museum.

1 a.m. Finally bedtime! Eeyore says goodnight 🙂

And that was that. A long day! How was your Saturday?

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.