My 2017

Aah, 2017. This year has gone so fast that I don’t feel prepared at all, but honestly I’ll be glad to see the back of it. Between things going on at Jan’s company (which I can’t blog about), quite a bit of stress/overtime for me at work (which I occasionally allude to but won’t blog about in more detail because it’s never a good idea to say too much about work, even if what I have to say wouldn’t be in any way critical!), and some personal things (which I may one day blog about), this has been far from my favourite year. But enough about that, let me get on with my annual recap.

Usually I provide links to the posts about the events/travels in each month, but that won’t be happening so much this year… I’ve barely managed to post about any of them since about February. Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger! Oh well, at least that will hopefully mean some of them will be new to my readers and this recap will be less repetitive than previous ones 😉


We went to Glasgow for Hogmanay, together with our friend K, and saw in 2017 at the Ashton Lane Street Party. It had rained most of the day on the 31st but actually stopped in time for us to go out in the evening so we didn’t get soaked watching the fireworks. Yay!

Glasgow fireworks

The next day K showed us around Glasgow and we had a walk around the cemetery. (And there’s the first thing I failed to actually post about!)

Apart from that, we went back to Karlsruhe for a birthday party and I attempted to bake Bourbon Creams. They did not work particularly well. It also snowed in January. And on the 21st we went to see Dara Ó Briain perform – coincidentally almost exactly a year after we had seen Dylan Moran. That’s all I remember. It was a fairly quiet month.


An even quieter month. I am honestly having to wrack my brains to figure out whether we did anything! Jan and I got together in February, and in 2017 we celebrated our 13 year anniversary so there’s that. Our anniversary was on a Sunday so we couldn’t do much, but the day before we took a trip to Winterthur, near Zurich (another trip I have yet to post about…).

Winterthur Stadthaus

My work had an event for freelancers so I had to go into the office in Germany… on a Saturday, no less. I took the last week of the month off and had great intentions of cleaning and visiting nearby places, but I ended up doing nothing much. I did walk along the Rhine almost all the way to Germany on one of the days though. It was 22°C that day… in February! Crazy!


We also ordered a chest of drawers and a Billy bookcase from IKEA. I bet you can barely contain your excitement now!


Jan’s birthday is in March but he’s boring and never wants to celebrate so we didn’t do anything. I cooked a slightly nicer than usual meal for him coming home from work and baked cupcakes.

Fasnacht was in March this year (it’s always in either February or March – the week after everyone else celebrates Carnival/Fasching/Pancake Day). This year we went to the fire parade in Liestal the night before the main celebrations started. It was awesome! If you ever find yourself in Basel at the right time, get ye there!


I had taken all three days of Fasnacht off, but it rained so much that I only actually went on the Tuesday!

We went to see the King’s Singers in March – the tickets were Jan’s Christmas gift – and also hosted visitors who came to see Jan perform with one of his choirs. Another friend also came to visit for no reason other than to see us. It was a pretty grey and cold day, but we went to a local animal park anyway.


And that’s all I can think of for March, so on to the next month…


At the beginning of the month Jan was singing in Chur (the same concert I had already seen in March) and his hosts invited me down for the night, so we spent an afternoon exploring the town before taking a train back. Briefest trip ever!

Easter was in April this year, and we spent it in Berlin, visiting our friend K (the same one from New Year). Another trip I haven’t posted about. *Sigh*. It was very cold and essentially we spent time catching up and ate a lot. Two days summarised very briefly!

Brandenburg Gate

At the end of the month we had another visitor, because we had offered him a trip to a local art gallery as his birthday present. We did the gallery on the Sunday and went to Bern and Fribourg on the Saturday (luckily it was a photo an hour day so I actually have a post to link to!).

On the 26th, I had been living in Switzerland for precisely two years! Woo.


This month saw us take another trip to IKEA (we bought something for dirty laundry and a table that’s really a bench for our plants) and attended a concert that a doctor Jan once saw about some throat issues was performing in. Random! We also went to an exhibition about robots at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein (Germany). And on one of the many public holidays in May we went to Reinach where there is a fairytale sculpture path that I’ve failed to write about along with everything else I did this year!

Red Riding Hood

We went to see Ross Noble at the very end of May. He was funny, but far from the best comedian I’ve seen live. Sorry Ross, but my Northern patriotism doesn’t go that far…

Oh, apparently we went to Belfort (France) at the beginning of May. Yet another trip I haven’t posted about…


The first weekend in June was a long weekend (thank you Whit Monday!), so we decided to take advantage and go away somewhere. That somewhere ended up being the Champagne region in France so I could cross something off my 35 before 35 list (which I will definitely not be completing before my next birthday, but oh well!).


In the middle of the month one of Jan’s choirs had a CD release party so I went along to that. It also happened to be Photo an Hour day, so at least I wasn’t just sitting around at home for once! We also saw the Swiss Youth Choir perform in June (Jan is in a choir with some of its members so he wanted to go along). What else? This post tells me the only time I swam in the Rhine this year was in June. After that it was either raining or we weren’t around.


Jan performed with the Basel Tattoo Choir in July so he was busy with that for pretty much the entire month. I went to a performance… on the one day of the whole week that it properly chucked it down, thunder and lightning and everything! It was still cool though.

And that is literally the only thing I can remember doing in July (other than reading and cross stitching, which don’t count for this recap). I seem to recall it being a busy month at work?


My birthday month! We celebrated by going to Solothurn then attempting to watch shooting stars in Spiez the day before and then going up Rigi on my actual birthday.

Jan’s mum and her partner were staying on Lake Constance during August, so we met up with them on one weekend, first we had a reunion with some family members and then drove down to Überlingen with them for a night.

Then, at the end of August, it was finally time for our summer holiday! We spent most of the time in Cornwall and the Lake District, with the bank holiday weekend at “home” in Northumberland where we attended a friend’s 30th birthday party. We also met up with the lovely Kezzie, which was fab!

Lands End


We started September still in the UK, driving from the Lake District to Falkirk on the 2nd, where we saw the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies and spent one night in an apartment before flying home from Edinburgh the next day.


Jan’s former choir had a performance in September, and as the trains were not going at that time we had to hire a car… so we decided to get it for the whole weekend. We went to IKEA (another bookcase, hoorah!), Castle Chillon on Lake Geneva and then, on the Sunday, Karlsruhe for the choir’s performance.


Apart from that September was another busy month at work so I spent most of my free time cross stitching and attempting to catch up on sleep!


We’re getting close to the end now!

October and March are the months that Jan’s choirs have their performances, and this year was no exception. Once again I attended two performances (one of which fell on a Photo an Hour day), and we had visitors come to watch the one by the better choir.

As always, the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg was on from September to the first week of November, and in October we managed to make it there! (Another post I’ve been meaning to write…) This year’s theme was Romans. I found the sculptures better than last year but 2015’s “Flight” topic is still the best I’ve seen. (Post here for those that missed it back then)


Basel’s autumn fair happened in October and we very bravely tried eating insects!


I think I spent most of November making Christmas cards and buying gifts for my family (I had to have them all sorted by the beginning of December this year…). We certainly didn’t travel anywhere… and on one weekend I even agreed to work! We did have a trip to the theatre though, so that’s something.


A friend from uni came to visit for the first week in December and we took a trip to the Christmas markets in Freiburg, via a small village called Bad Bellingen, then went to see the Basel markets the next day. It was a lovely weekend filled with lots of Glühwein.

Freiburg Wihnachtsmarkt

The following weekend we were in England where I was a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. The day went amazingly, my sister looked gorgeous, my cousin did a fantastic job with my hair (plus the other bridesmaids’ and my mam’s) and a good time was had by all. I really enjoyed catching up with family. However, the 24 hours it took to get home after our first flight was delayed – causing us to miss our connection – I did not enjoy!

bride balloons

And that brings us pretty much to the present. Last weekend the shops were open on Sunday (a thing that is only allowed to happen a limited number of times per year) so Jan and I went to a shopping centre and did some last-minute gift buying.  On Tuesday we met up with friends here for pre-Christmas drinks (on a side note, at which point to you get to claim people are your “friends” rather than just people you hang out with sometimes?), and today is my final day at work for the year. As for the rest of December… we’re spending Christmas at home, just the two of us. On Boxing Day we will be visiting a cousin of my dad’s who lives not far from us (but in Germany having recently left Switzerland), Jan has to work on a few of the days between Christmas and New Year, and then we will be seeing out 2017 in Geneva.

And that was my year… from Glasgow to Geneva with a few stops in between. I didn’t think we had done much this year, but writing this post has reminded me of a few days out that I had entirely forgotten (Belfort was this year? Wow!). There were a few quieter months, but overall I can’t really complain that it was a boring year. For 2018 I am hoping for good news for Jan on the work front (above all that we get to actually stay where we are!) and generally a more settled year in that regard, with slightly less overtime for me, and hopefully also some answers on to other things as well. Bring it on 2018. I’m ready!


Autumn walk 2017

Around this time last year, I went for a walk along a stream near where I live. A year before that I had walked along the same stream and taken photos of the gorgeous autumn colours. It was only afterwards that I realised the photos had been taken on the same day. This year I wanted to take photos on the same day again, but unfortunately I misremembered the date and thought the others had been taken on 31st October. Actually, it was the 30th. Oh well…one day out is basically the same, right?

The trees have been weird this year with some of them changing from green to yellow then brown and finally losing most of their leaves all within a single weekend (a few weeks ago) while others are still looking very green even now. Two years ago I’m sure all the trees were red and yellow and orange at this stage? Anyway, here are some photos of this year’s autumn walk.

Leaving the house immediately proved worth it when I saw this guy mere minutes into my walk:


As you can see, it was an absolutely glorious day for a walk. Hard to believe it had been freezing cold and rainy just two days earlier!

And finally, here’s a comparison of this year with the autumns of the past two years:

From left to right, the end of October 2015, 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately the photos weren’t taken in the exact same place/direction, but they are very close together and you definitely get an idea of how different the colours have been at the exact same time of year! I actually think last year was even greener… this year’s photo looks more yellow, while 2015 had all the orange. Now let’s hope we’re still here at this time next year so I can see what the colours are doing then!

A Photo an Hour: 28 October 2017

After months of missing the reminders, on Saturday I finally managed to take part in Photo an Hour again. Hurrah! Here’s what I got up to:

10 a.m. I am awake… so obviously I need tea! (I am very predictable. One of these days I’m going to start reusing photos of tea and I bet nobody will even notice.)

11 a.m. Some Christmas card stitching… I’m way behind!

12 noon. I managed to shower between hours for once. Woo! Now clean and dressed in all the birds!

1 p.m. Back to stitching… wondering whether Jan ever plans to get out of bed!

2 p.m. The boy got up – hurrah! This calls for a celebratory cuppa 😉

3 p.m. Lunch! There was nothing in the fridge so I nipped to the shop for some juice and a sandwich.

4 p.m. And back to stitching… nearly finished 🙂

5 p.m. I lit a candle and made some apple and mint tea before I had to head out into the cold.

6 p.m. Off out to watch Jan sing (for the second weekend in a row) – I had to leave early because he forgot to buy me a ticket. A selfie was the best photo I could think of.

7 p.m. Terrible photo thanks to it being dark and my camera flash being broken – but when the door opens right as the clock is striking seven it has to be the subject of my 7 p.m. photo! Welcome to Switzerland 😉

I missed 8 p.m. because it was during the concert so…

9 p.m. A quick snap of the stage before I left the church (St Martin’s, in case you’re wondering). We then went to eat with some other members of the choir after the concert so I missed 10 p.m. as well since I didn’t want to be rude. At least this way symmetry was preserved 😉

11 p.m. A glass of water before bed.

And that was my Saturday. How was yours? Good I hope!

Linking up with Louisa and Jane, of course.

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.


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 town hall



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.


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).


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.


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:



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…


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 😉


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?


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?



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…

Shooting stars for 34 years of me!

As you may or may not have noticed, it was my birthday on Sunday. I’m now 34 – less than a year until I have to tick the next category in age ranges (why is it always 35 to something) and less than a year left for my 35 before 35. Eeep. Obviously, 34 doesn’t feel too different so far. Obviously I am another year older, but at this point I’m also only 4 days older than I was before my birthday…

Part of my gift from Jan was a trip to look for shooting stars. As you may know, the Perseids is a meteor shower that takes place every year from around mid-July, peaking between the 12th and 14th of August… i.e. right around my birthday. Since it was cloudy in Basel on the 12th, we had to go hunting for them elsewhere. So Jan hired a car, which he eventually managed to pick up in the afternoon after some mix up about where it was. Since it was still light, we went to Solothurn first, where we were just in time to climb the tower of the Baseltor before it closed.

Back down on the ground, we took a walk through Solothurn and then went for dinner (I had tuna steak. It was delicious). Then I decided since it was my last meal as a 33 year old I deserved dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yum! I didn’t take any photos of the food, but here’s one of the restaurant we ate at:

Brasserie Federal_Solothurn
Brasserie Federal, Solothurn

After dinner, we got back in the car and drove in a generally south-ish direction, hoping to find somewhere less cloudy. We eventually got to Bern, where we checked the cloud radar and decided to move further south. We eventually ended up in Spiez, which is where we got out of the car. First we went down to the lakeside (Lake Thun for those who are interested) and then we headed up to a castle on a hill so that we could see more of the sky at once. I still only managed to spot a grand total of three shooting stars the entire time we were there, but we did see a bat, which is always cool. Midnight struck while we were by the castle, but unfortunately no meteorite showed itself to wish me a happy birthday 😉 From what I could see, Spiez looked like a nice place. We’ll have to go when it’s light some time. Here’s the castle and a church that was opposite it – I thought the moon beside it (half hidden behind a cloud) looked cool.

It was 2 a.m. by the time we got home, so all I did was go to bed, leaving my cards for the morning.

Such a beautiful place to see in my 34th birthday. Once again, I’m so glad we took the chance and moved to Switzerland.

Recent doings #20

I’m sure you’re sick of me saying it every month, but how is it August already? Ten days until my birthday… I’m so not ready to be 34! I am, however, ready for a holiday. 15 days until we fly. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Right now, though, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch to talk about all the things I’ve been doing in July.


Eating. I started the month continuing June’s theme of salads and ice cream, but then the weather got bad plus Jan was performing with the Basel Tattoo choir every evening so for the last half of July I just ate whatever could be made quickly and easily. Fish fingers featured a few times. And sandwiches.

Watching. The Coroner on BBC Entertainment. It seems to be over now though – when I tried to put it on last night Hustle was on instead. Also fireworks over the Rhine for Switzerland’s national day (which is actually on 1st August, but Basel is greedy and does fireworks twice, so the ones on the day before just about manage to sneak in to my July round-up ;-)).

Reading. I actually had a good reading month for a change and managed to read 14 books! Ten were for Erin’s challenge. I will tell you about the in detail next week.

Seeing/hearing. The Basel Tattoo! Since Jan was part of it, I got tickets for one of the performances. It was very cool and I would definitely go again.

Cross stitching. Birthday cards galore! I wanted to get all the Post Pals birthday cards for August finished and sent out before I go away (and of course I also stitched the July ones), plus my friend turned 30 so I made her a card as well.

mermaid birthday card

Booking. Our flight back from the UK and accommodation in Cornwall. And Jan has now booked the remaining accommodation so we’re all sorted. Woo!

Buying. It would probably be easier to say what I haven’t been buying to be honest! I spent way too much money in July. I definitely bought books, stickers and a load of badges/pins to send to Post Pals kids (they have all been given lanyards to collect them). I can’t even remember what else. Oh, birthday gifts for my mum and my friend, of course.

Wishing. Work would slow down a bit. I mean, having lots of work is better than sitting around doing nothing and I do appreciate being kept busy, but I am exhausted right now.

That’s all for today. All that aforementioned work awaits (and today I have to work longer again to make up for the fact that I’m in the office tomorrow and won’t actually arrive there until 10 a.m.).

What have you been doing recently? Don’t forget to check out the link up to find out what’s new with everyone else!

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.