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?

 

Recent doings #16

Another month has passed (it’s already April!), and that means it’s time to link up with Kristin and Gretch to talk about what I’ve been up to recently.

whats-new

Here are my March doings:

Reading. So many books. So, so many. First, I finished the bonus round for Erin’s challenge. Plus I read The Day of the Triffids intending for it to be my book for “a genre you rarely read” (science fiction), except then I had to change it because I didn’t have 5 previously chosen books on my list. And I read the next three books in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, two of them on the same day. That’s how much I love them! In total I read 16 books in March and started another.

Watching. Some film called “Planet 51” that Jan found while flicking through channels. It was cute. Also Come Dine With Me (guilty pleasure!) and I recently discovered the Father Brown TV series so I’ve been watching that occasionally, when I manage to catch it.

Learning. About Wales, but no Welsh yet because I haven’t got to the language portion of my OU course. Also to loom knit – my latest hobby. I have made a few practice hats that wouldn’t even fit a newborn and also one sock for myself. It is recognisably a sock and even fits me, but I haven’t made the second one yet because I ran out of wool – or I suppose I should say yarn now like people who know what they’re talking about.

Celebrating. Jan’s birthday, on the 1st of the month. Not that we celebrated much since he doesn’t care about his birthday (weird, right?) and went to work, but he got gifts and I baked cupcakes so there’s that.

Attending. Fasnacht stuff, including the fire parade in Liestal and the 4 a.m. parade (“Morgestraich”) in Basel.

Trump lantern
Morgestraich. Trump featured on quite a few lanterns…

Eating. Do you know what… you can just look here if you haven’t already. That’s basically our diet, with a few other dishes thrown in (three bean chilli, various soup/broth type things, curry, cottage pie…).

Drinking. I’ve kind of given up on the caffeine avoidance and been drinking a lot of ordinary black tea… I will get better at that again, but lately I’ve been so tired that a proper cuppa in the afternoon has been the only thing that kept me going long enough to actually make dinner!

Buying. Uhh… what haven’t I been buying more like? Books, wool (yarn), crafting supplies, a turtle necklace (too cute to resist!), a Mother’s Day gift for my mam. I have been very bad and I should feel bad, but I really don’t. Must curb my spending this month though…

Seeing. Or hearing? I’m never sure what to say when it comes to concerts! Anyway, we finally saw The King’s Singers, which I gave Jan tickets for at Christmas but the concert was only this month. Plus Jan performed with his choir so of course I went to one of those performances (but not all 4 because seeing the same concert four times would have been slightly excessive!)

Hosting. One friend who came to stay for the weekend just to see us and then four people from Jan’s former choir who came to watch him perform with his current choir.

And I think that’s all. At least nothing else comes to mind. It should give you a pretty good idea of how I spent my time in March anyway.

What have you been doing recently?

ChienbĂ€se – the Liestal fire parade

This year Fasnacht, or carnival, took place in Basel from 6-8 March. But before that, Liestal (the capital of Basel-Landschaft) kicked things off with their own event on the Sunday night – the ChienbĂ€se. BĂ€se is Swiss German for Besen, meaning broom and the Chien part is apparently to do with the type of wood they use  – I’ve just looked it up and Chienholz is pinewood. So it basically means “Pinewood brooms”. What the name doesn’t tell you is that said brooms are set on fire and then paraded around the town of Liestal, which is mostly made up of wooden buildings! They even go through a wooden gate/archway, which the fire brigade sprays with water in between each group. Crazy!

There were extra trains from Basel that evening, so we set off on the 6:15 p.m. train along with a friend who moved to Basel in December and some other people we’ve got to know here. Liestal was already pretty crowded when we arrived, but we managed to find a nice spot before the aforementioned wooden gate. Most people wanted to be in the town proper, after the gate, but I actually preferred being somewhere where I could run away if anything went wrong! I’m not sure I would have liked being stuck in the narrow old-town streets…

We waited for what seemed like forever, then some musicians and a few “normal” Fasnacht floats went by. This was followed by another period of waiting and waiting and waiting, then we finally spotted flames coming down hill!

The broom carriers approached the gate and began to go through:

Even in the fourth row, the heat was intense. I can’t even imagine how the people actually carrying the fire must have felt!

More and more groups of broom carriers passed by where we were standing:

We spied some sausages attached to one of the “brooms” (really more like bundles of wood in a rough broomish shape):

I wonder if they ate them afterwards?

After a few groups of people carrying brooms, entire floats or carts of wood started to go by. The flames were pretty high and we wondered how they were ever going to get through the archway!

Once the parade was over, we lost half our group! The rest of us went looking for a Fasnacht cellar to go into (where the groups hold their meetings), but the only one we found was full so we had a beer at a restaurant then wandered around for a while before taking a train back to Basel. There, three of us went for a coffee while the other two went home, then Jan, our friend and I met up with our Finnish friend again and the four of proceeded to stay up all night waiting for Morgestraich… but that’s another story for another time.

The ChienbĂ€se is a totally crazy event… not at all what I would expect from the Swiss, with their reputation of being sensible! There aren’t even any barriers between the crowd and the flames, and although the fire brigade is there to tell people to get back, the front row is much closer to the action than I expect would be allowed in England! If you’re not afraid of fire and you find yourself near Basel around Fasnacht I can definitely recommend going. Wear something non-flammable that you don’t mind getting smoked (you will stink of bonfire afterwards!), avoid taking very young children and have fun!

Some information for anyone who may want to go in the future: Fasnacht in Basel takes place on the Monday-Wednesday of the week after everywhere else has its Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)/Mardis Gras/Fat Tuesday/Fasching/Carnival (there are various possible explanations for this that I won’t go into right now), and the ChienbĂ€se is on the Sunday night before the Monday of Fasnacht. The date for ChienbĂ€se in 2018 is 18 February and in 2019 it’s on 10 March.

What do you think? Would you like to go to a fire parade?

 

Friday letters

The fact that it is Friday is so confusing to me this week! I had three more holiday days from last year that needed to be used before the end of the month and this week was Fasnacht (Basel carnival), so it seemed like a good time to take them, with the result that I went back to work yesterday and now it’s already Friday! While a two day working week is quite relaxing, it is apparently too much for my brain to take in… yesterday I spent 3 or 4 hours totally convinced it was Monday. Hmm. Oh well, on with the letters.

Mail box

Dear Fasnacht. So, you’re over for another year. As fun as you were, I must admit I will be glad to be able to go into town without being confetti bombed! (And to no longer constantly be hoovering said confetti up from my floor!)

Dear body. I do not understand how it took you a month to shed 1.5 kg and a mere three days to put every single gram of that back on. Fasnacht has a lot to answer for!

Dear Jillian Michaels DVD. I have big plans to get you out and start doing your workouts again. Unfortunately so far the project seems to have stopped at the planning stage 😉

Dear self. I know Goodreads is tempting, but you really do not need to be adding any more books to your wish list. Read the ones you’ve got on your shelves first!

Dear OU. It’s been a long time since I last tried one of your short courses. I hope I’m still disciplined enough to do the work! At least this is one I can do at my own pace – and I have a whole 6 months so that should be doable…

That’s all folks. Have a great weekend!

 

February photos

Happy March everyone! I can’t believe another month is over already. Today is Jan’s birthday, so tonight there shall be a nice meal and gifts 🙂

Last month I started a new series in which I wanted to share the photos I took throughout the month that didn’t warrant a blog post of their own. So, with another month now over, it’s time to share February’s photos.

Nobody needs this many (bad) photos of small birds but I just can’t resist their cuteness!

The snow returned (briefly) and I discovered once again that it’s really hard to take photos while snow is actually falling from the sky!

snow

The photo above was taken on a Friday morning. The sun came out in the afternoon and melted everything that had managed to settle… and would you believe the next day was bright sunshine and highs of 12°C? The weather has been so confusing lately!

I had a week off at the end of the month and on a particularly sunny day I went for a walk into town (and beyond). It was 22°C that day. In February! I mean, it was nearly March, but still… 22°C!

There were signs that spring was approaching! Can you spy the bee below?

I walked all the way to the Birsfelden hydroelectric plant, which means nothing to you so you’ll just have to trust me that it was a reasonably long walk 😉 2km further and I would have been in Germany, but instead I decided to cross the river and head back since it was getting on for 3 p.m. and I still had to cook tea.

Look how blue the water is? Aah, I love living here!

And, to finish off, a yummy treat! Jan and I finally made it to the chocolate cafĂ© I’ve been saying I want to go to ever since we moved here. I don’t even care that I went way over my calorie limit for that day -it was so, so worth it! Chocolate heaven ❀

And that was my February in photos. Tomorrow there will be a proper February recap post – with less imagery and more words (the type that end with -ing 😉 )