Recent doings #30

Hi friends! Can you believe it’s August already? That means I will be turning 35 this month! And with so much of my 35 before 35 list left undone 😉 I have done a lot of the things on the list though – and also quite a few that weren’t even on there so I’m fine with it. Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… today I’m here to talk about what I’ve been doing in July.

whats new with you

 

Eating. Lots of salad – it’s been far too hot to cook! Trying to eat fish twice a week. And before you start thinking how virtuous I am, a  lot of ice cream has also been consumed 😉

Reading. I didn’t manage to read as much this month partly thanks to work being crazy busy and also because I had a lot of cross stitching to do and also I feel like work has been trying to drown me in translations…. I did so much overtime in July! I managed to read 6 books for Erin’s challenge though, plus 3 other full books and I finished one I had started in June. I also started 2 other books for Erin’s challenge but one I couldn’t manage to get into and the other is long so I haven’t finished it yet.

Watching. Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars… which means we’ve actually finished a whole series. Woo! Also football because World Cup and Young Sheldon.

Cross stitching. Birthday season has begun! Actually, it started with my mum’s birthday on 26 July but I didn’t stitch her a card this year so the first cross stitched card was one I started last month for my friend’s son’s 1st birthday. I then stitched a card for another friend’s son, whose birthday is on 27 August. Next up are my brother’s birthday (1 September) and my godson’s birthday (13 September). And I also started my Christmas stitching in July… yes, I know that sounds crazy but past experience tells me if I don’t want to be stressed in December I have to start now.

Going. Up mountains. As I mentioned last month, we took an overnight trip to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne on 30 June. On 1 July we took the cable car from Vitznau up to the Wissifluh – part of Rigi – then drove down to Stans and went up the Stanserhorn. We saw loads of butterflies on both mountains. I’ve never seen so many different types outside of a butterfly house! It was pretty amazing. Then last Sunday we spontaneously decided to drive to French-speaking Switzerland last week – St Ursanne and Neuchâtel.

butterfly

Seeing/hearing. The Basel Tattoo! Jan was performing with the tattoo choir again and I had a ticket for the first Saturday. It’s definitely an experience I can recommend.

Buying. Too many books, as usual. Also a bird necklace from Etsy. Anything else? A birthday present for my friend’s son, which also happened to be books 😉

Wishing. Things would cool down just a little. This is Switzerland – there’s no need for it to still be 28°C at 9 o’clock at night!

And that was basically my July. Work, boil to death, prepare food that preferably doesn’t involve generating more heat, attempt to sleep even though I apparently live in an oven, wake up, repeat. With a little trip at the beginning and end of the month to balance things out.

How was your July? Anything new you want to share? Check out the link up to see what other bloggers have been up to lately.

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Recent doings #29

Good morning! It’s that time of the month again where I link up with Kristen to tell you what’s new with me. June was a weird month – at the time it didn’t feel like it was going fast, but looking back I can’t believe it’s actually over already. Work has also been pretty busy recently, which is why I haven’t been around much on the blogosphere. I’m so sorry if yours is one of the blogs I never got around to commenting on! Anyway, let’s have a look at what I got up to last month…

whats new with you

Reading. The month started off relatively slow and I didn’t think I was going to read many books, but I actually ended up completing 18 again! One of those was started in May and I only read the last few pages in June, so I read 17 entire books in June. I also started two others, which I’ve now abandoned for Erin’s challenge because of course I have. Actually finishing what I started is overrated 😉

Watching. We’re still recording Young Sheldon each week and then watching it on a different day. And I’ve been watching football… way more than I would have chosen to watch if I’d been in charge of the remote 😉

Eating. Salad. Lots and lots of salad. We’ve also made use of the barbecue, so there have been quite a few sausages as well. Oh, and ice cream. It’s okay though… I kept breakfast/lunch really low calorie so I managed to fit it into my plan and even get the scales moving in the right direction. Although I put on half a kilogram when we went away for the weekend and it’s taken until today for the scales to finally be back where they were on Friday. *Sigh*

Going to. Like I said, we went away for the weekend. Jan hired a car and we drove to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, where we spent one night. We went on 30 June and didn’t get there until early evening so most of what we did will be covered in my summary for July 😉 But here’s a picture taken from the car ferry that brought us across the lake

Lake Lucerne

The weekend before, we took a day trip to Wasserfallen, which is a short drive from us. We took a cable car up a mountain, walked around and saw some people returning from llama trekking. It looked so cool and now I want to take a llama for a walk!

Cross stitching. I stitched a smiley card for a Post Pals sibling and started a card for my friend’s son’s birthday. Need to start Christmas stitching soon!

Celebrating. A school/university friend’s wedding… the one we travelled to England for in May. Also a colleague of Jan’s birthday. Here, have a look at what I wore for the wedding:

wedding outfit

Baking. Biscuits, as you saw, for the aforementioned birthday celebration and then to use up the leftover butter cream icing.

Seeing/hearing. Jan had another performance – this time a project set up by someone from one of his other choirs – so of course I went along to see it.

Attending. A meeting with our housing association and some architects. Our building is being renovated next year and all the flats are getting new windows and new kitchens/bathrooms. It will mean a lot of disruption and a temporary shower for everyone on the ground floor, but we have the most annoying toilets so I can’t wait for them to be replaced. We will also be getting individual washing machines, so no more making appointments for the communal one only for people to steal them. Can. Not. Wait!

Buying. Umm… books, of course. Including two at the airport on the way back from England. I actually can’t think of anything else I bought in June, other than groceries, stamps… things that don’t count.

I think that’s everything that happened in June that I can actually talk about (so vague. So cryptic. So sorry). I hope you all had a great month. Tell me what you got up to… or come link up with the rest of us!

A Photo an Hour: 19 May 2018

It’s taken a couple of days, but finally here is my post for Saturday’s photo an hour. The link up is hosted by Louisa and Jane.

9 a.m. Yes, you read that right. I was up before 10 on photo-an-hour day. Breakfast time!

10 a.m. Off for a shower – this is the shower curtain over the bath since Jan was using the actual shower

11 a.m. Jan left for a choir practice (hence me being up so early – practically my only chance to see him!) and I started hoovering.

12 noon I temporarily gave up on housework and decided to walk into town.

1 p.m. In town.

2 p.m. Home and about to have lunch – it was in the oven at this point so I took a photo of the packaging.

3 p.m. Decided to sort out some of the shelves on my bookcases. No idea what possessed me!

4 p.m. Still at it. I put together a nice pile of books to get rid of, but the shelves are still practically full. Also, I realised I can’t bring myself to get rid of any BBC Big Read books, even ones I hated, until I’ve actually completed the challenge!

5 p.m. The bookcases still aren’t exactly as I want them, but I needed a cuppa by that stage.

6 p.m. Contemplating my shelves of unread books. They never seem to get any less… hmmm I wonder why that could be?

7 p.m. Jan’s practice finished early so I walked back into town to meet him. Stork was in residence!

8 p.m. Dinner at a restaurant. Rösti with cheese and ham. This is why I’m failing miserably to lose weight!

9 p.m. Home. Jan immediately switched on the laptop to sort out some bills so I thought I might as well read.

10 p.m. Almost finished my book – just a few pages to go.

I could have taken one more photo after this, but I didn’t because I hate it when my photo-an-hour posts aren’t symmetrical!

Did you do anything nice on Saturday?

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!

Switzerland, three years on

Basel

Today is exactly three years since we packed the last of our stuff in a van (the rest having been taken a month earlier when Jan moved), said a final goodbye to our flat in Karlsruhe and I came to join Jan here in Basel. So, what’s been going on?

I still have the exact same four friends/acquaintances as last year, but our friends who moved here from Karlsruhe will probably be returning to Germany soon and I’ll be back down to two. I was hoping Jan would make friends for both of us, but despite him being involved in more choirs and singing projects than I can count I rarely get to actually meet any of the people he spends time with. I’ve been to every single one of his concerts and even joined the performers for dinner after some of them, but once it’s been established that I don’t (can’t!) sing, the rest of the conversation goes on without me. Basically I need to find some less antisocial hobbies… and the courage to go out and meet people by myself.

Other than that, we have visited even more places in Switzerland, including Geneva (finally), Spiez (in the dark!) and Castle Chillon, tried quite a few new restaurants in Basel, watched the fireworks for Switzerland’s national day and attended both Fasnacht in Basel and the Liestal fire parade again this year. We had fewer visitors in 2017, but have already had one in 2018 and will hopefully be seeing more later in the year.

basel-rhine

All in all, I am still very much enjoying living here and I hope we can continue living here for a very long time!

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”.

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 😉

January

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.

February

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!

birsfelden-power-plant

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

March

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!

Chienbäse8

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.

fox

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

April

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.

May

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…

June

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!).

Moet-Chandon

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.

July

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?

August

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

September

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.

Kelpies

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.

Chillon

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!

October

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)

Pumpkins2

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

November

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.

December

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!