2020: Isolation Is Not Good for Me

Actually I did okay in isolation – unlike the rest of the world, I’m mostly fine with having an excuse to stay home and read (yes it sucks that I haven’t seen a single member of my family for over a year, and even more so that this happened when my dad was finally planning on coming to visit me for the first time since my year abroad in 20014, but having to stay at home/not go to bars and clubs really isn’t the end of the world for me and I already worked from home anyway) – but I couldn’t resist using that as a post title. I mean when will I ever get the chance again? It’s a line from the song Lemon Tree by Fool’s Garden if you don’t know. (Apologies if you feel I’m making light of what I know has been a terrible year for both the world in general and many people as individuals. I know not everyone shares my “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry” attitude.)

Anyway. Here’s something I wrote at the end of last year’s recap post:
…the last few weeks I’ve finally felt like I’m starting to emerge from the fog and I am hopeful that 2020 can be a better year, even if I ultimately don’t get my wish to start a family of my own. Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead! (And no renovations, thank goodness – I’m still dealing with dust in unexpected places from the last one!)“.

Ha
Haha.
Hahaha.
So… it looks like it was me that jinxed us all. Sorry about that guys!
But let’s look back at 2020 shall we? This will be long so apologies in advance.

We started the year here in Basel, watching the fireworks with friends. (Well, technically when the year began we were still waiting for the fireworks since they don’t start until 00:30 here). On New Year’s Day the four of us slept late and then had a nice brunch before my friend and her boyfriend headed home to Germany. Remember those days when socialising and crossing borders was allowed? We also met up with a friend of Jan’s later in the month, took a bus to Gempen and then walked up the hill and had coffee/hot chocolate in the restaurant at the top. According to my January recap, we went to the theatre on 4th January. We saw a “Basel musical”, which was strange but entertaining.

View from beside the restaurant in Gempen

After a failed hysteroscopy in December 2019, I had to go in for another attempt in January of this year – this time under general anaesthetic. (I actually had to look that up because I was questioning whether it actually happened in 2020 – it’s been a long year!) I was very pleased to be knocked out for it this time around. Everything went well. The scar tissue that was removed the first time (in August 2019) had grown back over slightly and the doctor also opened up a few cysts (but said there wasn’t really much blood in them). A week later I also had to go for a sonohysterogram (or saline ultrasound) to make sure everything looked good after the hysteroscopy and my uterus expanded as it should. It wasn’t that painful during the procedure – although it felt like it went on forever – but afterwards I had a lot of cramps for the rest of the day and was glad of the Buscopan and painkillers they gave me.

The Good Omens TV series finally came to the BBC and we recorded and then watched each episode during January and part of February. It was just as good as I had hoped – definitely worth the wait. Other than that the only thing I really did in January was read. A lot. 22 books to be precise.

February was our anniversary. 16 years together. We didn’t celebrate on the day, but we did take a trip to Baden the weekend after. It’s known for being a spa town but the entire area of town with the thermal pools, etc. was being renovated when we went. We did manage to dip our feet in a hot pool by the river though. The following week I went to the doctor with acid reflux and stomach pains, resulting in a diagnosis of gastritis caused by stress. I was prescribed proton pump inhibitors, which worked for a while.

We also went to St Gallen – the original plan had been to take a day trip, but after a late start we spontaneously booked a hotel room and stayed overnight. The following day after a walk round town and into the hills we took a train to Rorschach and walked along the side of the lake before heading back to Basel.

Then came March. Oh March! Jan’s 40th birthday was on the 1st. He wanted to go for a meal, so we booked a table at one of the few restaurants that was open on Sundays. (Ahahaha. Now none of them are open on any day at all!) At that point it had just been announced that the Basel carnival (which was due to start the next day) had been cancelled and the waiter we spoke to mainly seemed to be concerned about what was going to happen to all the extra food and beer they had bought. How naive we all were back then! The following Friday I went into the office in Germany and on the Wednesday after that, 11th March, we were supposed to travel to Poland. I had woken up with cold symptoms on the Monday and was feeling worse by the Wednesday so I called in sick to work and was debating whether to still travel right up until I was due to leave for the train to Zurich. I finally made the decision to cancel after hearing that Poland were conducting health checks at the borders and sending anyone with symptoms that could be Covid-related to hospital. The following day I went to the doctor, who agreed that I likely only had a cold (exacerbated by the same stomach problems as in February). I got a sick note for two days so I could get part of my holiday back and then still took the following week as holiday since I had to use those days by the end of March anyway.

Meanwhile, my family decided to still go to Poland, arrived just before the announcement was made that borders would be closing and tourists could either leave or quarantine. Ryanair sent far too few rescue flights, so they ended up taking a taxi to Berlin, spending one night there and flying home via Düsseldorf – during that time Germany closed its borders with Austria and Switzerland but luckily flights to the UK were still unaffected. Basel-Landschaft (where I live) became the first canton to go into a shutdown, in which all bars, restaurants, night clubs, etc. and shops with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies had to close. Supermarkets were only allowed to sell essential items and actually had to cordon off the aisles with toys or clothing. All but essential medical services were cancelled, meaning the fertility clinic was forced to close just as I had been planning to try another transfer after the two procedures in January. I also had a dentist appointment cancelled – only emergency treatment was allowed. Jan’s employer announced that anybody who could work from home should do so and we set up our spare room as an office for him, and by the time my holiday was over all my colleagues were also working from home. That first lockdown weekend was also the first time in 2020 that I missed my weekly walk, being unsure what was actually allowed (as it turned out walks most definitely have been allowed throughout this entire pandemic, but the early days were full of confusion). It’s strange to think that if everything hadn’t gone wrong our twins would have turned one and I would have finished my maternity leave right around the time everybody started to lock down. Obviously both of us working from home during a pandemic has been much, much easier without two toddlers to care for but I can honestly say I would rather have my boys than an “easy” life!

A friend her first baby in March a daughter – so obviously I had to stitch a card for her. See, some people got good things this year!

April saw hairdressers, garden centres, DIY stores, medical massage practices, physiotherapists and dentists allowed to open again, with customers having to wear masks and limited numbers of people allowed in. Jan and I went for many, many walks in every possible direction – we are very lucky to live where we do, within easy walking distance of both Basel city and beautiful nature.

Those weekly walks and one supermarket trip per week were the only times I left the house in April. Work slowed down quite a bit and I had to finish early a few times. I tried to stay online longer on the days that I actually had enough to do and only ended up having to use four hours of overtime, which I then easily made up in the following months so it all worked out. We started watching Richard Osman’s House of Games (repeats, but we hadn’t seen them the first time round) and I got into colouring again after my friend sent me a colouring book, with the result that I only read 11 books in April – definitely not a bad amount, but very few for me!

In May Switzerland reopened even more and I finally got to go to the dentist… for the appointment that should have been in March! It turned out I needed a filling so I had to go back two more times, first for a cleaning and then for said filling. I jumped on the baking bandwagin and baked Zopf – a kind of Swiss bread – and Jan and I made a speciality of Graubünden called “Capuns.”

I received my new Swiss residence permit – ages after applying for it – meaning I am officially allowed to stay until 2025 no matter what happens with Brexit. Hurrah! We continued going for walks, including driving out to where some friends were staying and joining them for a socially distanced walk, and also drove to a village called Altreu that’s famous for its stork colony. We saw baby storks there. Baby. Storks!

I took part in the second Believathon and read nothing but children’s books for two weeks, which was lots of fun.

The fertility clinic reopened after two months and we got to go back. I had a transfer on 18th May and everything went perfectly. The embryo even managed to implant. Unfortunately I spotted basically from the day of the positive test. I ended up going in for an extra ultrasound on 10th June where they found no obvious cause for the bleeding (but it seemed to be related to the cervix) but I did see a heartbeat. Unfortunately when I went back for my regular scan 5 days later there was no longer a heartbeat. Based on the size they thought the embryo had stopped growing 2 days earlier at what would have been 6 weeks, 4 days. I had to keep taking hormones and come back 2 days later to make absolutely certain that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. The ultrasound at that appointment showed there was no heartbeat again and the embryo had actually shrunk, but my body showed no signs of wanting to miscarry naturally – what’s known as a missed or silent miscarriage. I was given the option of waiting to see whether my body would catch up or taking medication to induce it, and I chose the latter. First I was given mifepristone, which I had to take immediately with the doctor watching. You may have heard of it… it’s commonly known as “the abortion pill” but it’s also given in combination with misoprostol (Cytotec) to induce miscarriage or labour in cases of fetal death – the combination of the two makes it more likely that all the tissue will be expelled so no surgery if needed. So if you are “pro-life” have ever said/thought that mifepristone should be banned please remember that it’s not just for abortion. Without it I would most likely have needed a curettage to remove leftover tissue which is exactly what my already dodgy uterus does not need if I’m ever going to successfully carry a pregnancy to anywhere near term! I left the clinic with Cytotec, to be taken the following afternoon, and a prescription for strong painkillers. The next day, I lost our baby on the day I would have been exactly 7 weeks pregnant.

That was the second week in 2020 that I didn’t go for a walk… I think I had a good excuse though!

I cross stitched cards for two friends’ babies – the second child for each of them born 15 days apart. One boy, one girl.

Switzerland reopened even more and the border with Germany also reopened, although I chose not to go back to the office. Jan went into the office once because he needed to pick something up, so he ended up working there for a few hours, having lunch with some colleagues and then working from home in the afternoon. He also went to a socially distanced choir practice. Covid-19 case numbers at the beginning of the month were around 18 per day and around 60 by the end of the month. Figures that are actually unbelievable at this stage! Oh Switzerland… where did you go wrong?

July started with me having to go for an eye test due to itchy eyes and blurry vision. I ended up being prescribed glasses, although things have normalised now and I don’t really seem to need them any more. I’ve been told to use them as “relief” glasses for when my eyes are tired or strained after working for long periods of time. I then had weird sinus pressure/dizziness/headaches. After several trips to my doctor, blood tests and a referral to a ear, nose, throat specialist, I was told there was no sign of an infection. Although I had lots of mucus it looked clear and my nose was dry but not inflamed. Basically it looked to him like a classic case of allergies. I was prescribed a nose spray and decongestant pills (basically really strong eucalyptus capsules). The decongestant pills made everything taste like eucalyptus but provided almost immediate relief, meaning I could actually sleep! I’ve since had an allergy test (blood test) which revealed I am allergic to absolutely none of the things they tested for! Not trees, not various fruits, not nuts, not grasses, not moulds and not dust mites. However, I think I may be allergic to a certain brand of liquid soap because every time I use it to wash my hands I end up sneezing! For what it’s worth I had no fever, no cough, no sore throat and neither of the doctors I saw thought it was Covid related. My symptoms were very similar to the cold I had in March when we cancelled our trip to Poland, which made me wonder whether what I had back then was the same thing. There’s no real way of knowing though.

On the weekend after my eye test, I decided to rest my eyes (so no reading) and we drove out to Creux-de-Van, a giant circular rock formation in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. We had a lovely walk (staying at least 2 metres from other people at all times!). The scenery was really impressive – my photos do it absolutely no justice.

I went back to the fertility clinic in July for blood tests to rule out rheumatic conditions as a cause of my miscarriage/infertility – you’re supposed to have 3 miscarriages before those tests get approved but my doctor successfully argued that twins plus a single embryo meant I had miscarried three babies even if it wasn’t three pregnancies and that the five failed embryo transfers before the second miscarriage were also a cause for concern. One value was slightly high so I had to repeat the tests a few months later but the second time everything was normal, so that was not the explanation.

August was holiday month. Hurrah! Yes, we went on holiday during a pandemic. Yes I have been told I was irresponsible and selfish for even considering it, that it’s irrelevant that we spent most of the time in a car, kept our distance from other people and always wore masks indoors and that case numbers in Switzerland were around 150-200 per day at the time and most of those were in Geneva and Zurich – two places that we purposely avoided (to put things in perspective in November Switzerland was reporting around 10,000 cases per day and at the end of December the daily figure was 4,000-5,000). Never mind. We weighed up the risks and decided that as long as we were very careful we were okay with it. We had an amazing time touring Switzerland, and also celebrated my birthday towards the end of the holiday which was nice. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be turning 37 still childless but a tour week tour of Switzerland, delicious three course hotel meal, and watching the sunrise from a mountain on my birthday wouldn’t have been possible with young children so I can’t really complain too much.

The rest of August mostly just consisted of work (pretty quiet but I mostly had enough to do), cross stitch (birthday cards plus working on something for my brother’s 30th) and Richard Osman’s House of Games. Jan spent one whole (socially distanced) weekend at choir rehearsals/meetings so I used the time to start making Halloween cards for Post Pals. I also had an ultrasound to confirm that, after two periods, there was no tissue left in my uterus from the miscarriage and I would be allowed to continue treatment.

In September my godson turned 8, I continued making Halloween cards for Post Pals and I finished stitching my brother’s birthday present – unfortunately I can’t show you a photo because I forgot to take one. I had the repeat blood tests that I mentioned earlier (all normal) and started preparations for another transfer. I also went into the office in Germany for the first time since March to say goodbye to a colleague who was leaving. It was okay. The train home was full but not so much that I couldn’t get two seats to myself.

Switzerland decided to allow large events with up to 1000 people – including allowing crowds at football matches – from 1st October even though coronavirus cases had been steadily creeping up throughout September. So we started October with an average of around 300 new cases per day and ended it with around 7000 cases per day… a fact which surprised absolutely nobody except, apparently, the Swiss Government. Remember when I was irresponsible for going on holiday while we had less than 20 cases per day? Yeah…

Anyway, at the beginning of the month we got to do another embryo transfer. This time I spotted literally from the day of the transfer. Neither I nor the doctor expected it to have worked and we started discussing a new treatment that’s recently been improved. But somehow the pregnancy test was positive. Since my second beta hcg number had been pretty high I was given an appointment for an early ultrasound, at 5 weeks, 4 days. Again they could see no reason for the bleeding, no blood within the uterus. It was too early to see a heartbeat but they confirmed that there was a gestational sac and a yolk sac. The next day I started bleeding heavier after walking into town to buy some Christmas presents, but still went to Jan’s choir concert that night (hygiene measures in place, 8 rows distance between the choir and the audience and everyone in the audience had to wear masks) – one of the last concerts before the Swiss government realised their mistake and banned large events again. The following day, Sunday, the bleeding had died down in the morning but when I started passing clots at around lunch time I knew it was over. I emailed the clinic, who called me back and basically said to go and lie down, try not to worry and come for an ultrasound in the morning. The next day I called in sick to work, went to the fertility clinic and got confirmation of what I had suspected… the gestational sac was gone. At least this time I had passed everything naturally.

Jan’s friend started coming over to study a couple of times a week and I bought a table cloth to make the living room table look a bit nicer. At the end of the month I had an ultrasound to check that the miscarriage had completed. Thankfully it had and no surgery was necessary. And I ended the month with my annual autumn walk along the stream near where we live – with coronavirus cases rapidly increasing I was once again very grateful that we live where we do.

In November I made, wrote and posted Christmas cards for every single Post Pals family! That was a total of 44 cards. I also continued cross stitching cards for my own family and friends (I had made a start in October but didn’t get very far). I posted my cousin’s birthday present, plus a card that I had stitched in October, to New Zealand. Her birthday was on 12 December and it ended up arriving 3 days late even though I posted it earlier than usual this year!

I baked Vanillekipferl, attempted to start the pre-Christmas declutter (it made no difference – we still have too much stuff!) and bought myself a new dress. One of Jan’s choirs was supposed to have a concert but with events cancelled again they live-streamed it instead. It was actually quite nice to sit and watch from my living room with a cup of tea and my cross stitch.

At the beginning of December I had to go to the fertility clinic for an ultrasound on day 7 of my cycle to confirm that there was no tissue left in my uterus from the latest miscarriage. Everything looked good, which meant we could move on to the next step – an MRI to get a better look at my uterus and confirm my diagnosis. For a while we’ve been working on the assumption that I have adenomyosis. The MRI provided confirmation, so that’s definitely what caused my first 5 embryo transfers to fail and most likely what caused at least one of my miscarriages this year (with the first one it’s more likely to have been an issue with the embryo itself, but the second time there is a high chance that my uterus was unable to hold on to a perfectly good embryo). Recent studies have shown that an extended period of down-regulation before a frozen embryo transfer significantly increases pregnancy rates in women with adenomyosis, and my clinic has recently approved the procedure, so we’ll be trying that next time round. However, since we only have one embryo left, I’m going to do another full IVF stimulation round first. My doctor explained that affects of the down-regulation last a while, so if the final embryo transfer didn’t work it would be months before we could start a full cycle and get more embryos. This way we will have some waiting already, and if it does work out, we will have some frozen embryos made using my 37-nearly-38 year old eggs waiting for a potential sibling in the future. I will be at least 40 by the time we get to that stage and my egg quality will only get worse with each year that passes. So that’s what we’re going to do. If I’ve worked everything out correctly then in the absolute best scenario we can expect to have a baby in January 2022. And he or she will absolutely have been worth everything it took to get there!

Anyway… I’ve only just recapped December so I’ll make the rest of this quick. Work was busy, which I was actually grateful for. I ended the year with about 20 hours of overtime, which could be very useful with all the appointments involved in IVF (during stimulation there comes a point where I have an ultrasound every single day!). My mum and grandma got their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Many biscuits were baked… too many if I’m honest. I finished my Christmas cards and got them posted, sent my final box of Christmas gifts and then also took the packages for Jan’s family to the post office, where I stood in the longest queue I have ever seen there, and I once had to post gifts for Jan’s family 2 days before Christmas! I decluttered some more, cleaned and tidied everything ready for Christmas, and on the 23rd we finally bought our tree – we went to three places and at the third one bought the very last one they had. It was huge! Jan invited a friend round for Christmas Day and I made a traditional English Christmas dinner then avoided people entirely for the next 5 days (bar one supermarket trip) just in case I had picked up anything while socialising. We did go for walks but didn’t come into contact with anyone. New Year’s Eve involved stuffed peppers for tea, Christmas pudding, a Zoom call with some members of my family and drinking mulled wine on the balcony at midnight while watching the fireworks that other people were setting off (the few we could actually see from there). And then, finally, this incredibly strange and uncertain year was over.

So… what can I say about 2020? I know it was a terrible year for many people. For most people even. The world at large was an absolute shit show and I’m very aware that I haven’t really addressed that here. But honestly, while a lot of things came together this year, there has been a lot of crap going on out there for a while now that I have never addressed in my personal annual recap post so I’m not going to start now. This summary will all be personal to me.

At the end of 2019 I said I felt like I had spent most of the year in my own bubble, licking my wounds from what had come at the end of 2018 (losing our boys, my maternal grandmother dying a week later, my dad being diagnosed with cancer which is thankfully now officially gone). In 2020 I wanted to emerge from that bubble and really make the most of the year – see friends and family (my dad was actually going to visit us for the first time since the end of my year abroad in 2004!), visit places and do things that wouldn’t be an option if we actually succeeded in having a child. And then came the pandemic, forcing me to spend another year mostly at home, not seeing anyone. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world – we are in the very lucky position of having various technologies at our fingertips (I even got to see my mum and brother’s new house via Skype!), I got to spend more time with Jan since he wasn’t commuting and didn’t have choir rehearsals and other things basically every weekend, and we had time to explore our local area on some really enjoyable long walks. And we got to tour Switzerland, which in all honestly we probably wouldn’t have done if we’d been able to actually leave the country for a holiday. I can definitely see the positives in this year. But when it comes to the closing of the fertility clinic, meaning we lost two entire months of treatment (I could have done another IVF round and started the new treatment by now, ready for another transfer this month and potentially been looking at becoming a mother by October of this year), and the miscarriages I just cannot look on the bright side. Yes, I would have been giving birth during a pandemic (my due date for the first miscarriage would have been 3 February and things will definitely not be back to normal by then) but so have plenty of other people and while I’m sure they would have wished for a different birth experience all I want is a healthy, living, baby, and if that meant having to give birth wearing a mask, without Jan by my side, I would happily have taken that over the alternative. Empty arms and no idea whether parenthood is in the cards for us at all. So despite the bright sides, despite the fact that I am in the very, very lucky position of having barely been affected by the pandemic (nobody I know died, we were both able to work from home throughout, we still have our health, our home and each other), or any of the many other terrible things that have happened in 2020, once again this has not been a good year for me. Looking forward… I don’t even know what to say about 2021. Obviously things are not going to get back to any kind of normal until at least the summer, and even then who knows what that “normal” will look like. I already knew that humanity is inherently selfish, but this year has shown me that it’s even worse that I thought. So will things be better this year? I don’t know. Brexit is coming, the pandemic isn’t over, and honestly the whole world is a mess. But I do believe we can all do our bit to make the world a tiny bit brighter. So while I have no idea what 2021 is going to throw at me I am determined to face it with as much positivity and gratitude as I can muster up. I don’t expect starting a new calendar to magically make the world a better place, but I am happy to be able to draw a line under 2020 and look to what’s to come. My hopes for this year? That this new treatment will be the key to me actually getting – and staying – pregnant. (And if it isn’t at least I will be satisfied that we’ve tried all the options that are available to us – bear in mind that surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland and to adopt we would have to have been married for a minimum of 5 years, meaning even if we got married tomorrow it would be a long time before we could even be considered for adoption.) That I will be able to see and hug my family and friends in person. That Brexit won’t be as bad as I’m fearing and that life won’t get any worse for my family and friends in the UK, and that I will actually be able to keep my job despite the fact that I neither live nor pay taxes in Germany. That everyone I know will stay healthy – physically and mentally – despite all the challenges I’m sure are still to come.

I also hope that 2021 brings good things to you, dear reader. If 2020 has been a bad year for you then I hope it’s a better one and if you’ve managed to make it through unscathed and even have a good year then I hope that continues.

If you’ve actually read this far then THANK YOU! I have no idea why or how you read all that waffle, but you are actually, genuinely amazing! Happy New Year friends. Despite everything, we’re still here so if nothing else I feel like we can celebrate that.

December 2020 recap

Hello friends! Happy New Year! It’s over… we made it! Today I am here to recap last month. Then I will recap the entire year 2020 and write a post looking back at my resolutions/goals for last year. Somewhere in there is the first Show Us Your Books link up of the 2021, where I will tell you about what I read in December, and then I will finally be finished with 2020 and start looking forward to the year we’re currently in! Phew.

So, December. Final month of the year. Christmas, obviously. Switzerland started the month with around 4,000-5,000 Covid-19 cases per day and ended it with around 4,000-5,000 cases per day so clearly we’re doing amazingly over here (/sarcasm). Stricter measures were introduced at some point – so restaurants, bars, museums, gyms had to close. All shops stayed open though because we couldn’t have people not spending money right before Christmas, could we?

Over in the UK, my mum and grandma both got their first does of the Pfizer vaccine – coincidentally on the same day, but at different locations and entirely independently of each other. My mum is a nurse and my grandma is turning 81 in a few weeks, so both of them were in the highest priority groups. Fun(?!) fact: as of 28th December it was exactly a year since I had last seen any member of my family in person. We left England to fly back to Switzerland on 28 December 2019. I’m so glad we decided to spend Christmas in England last year – although it means it’s been even longer since we’ve seen Jan’s family (his dad visited us in March 2019 and his mum and her partner were here in August 2019).

Work was pretty busy in December, which I’m definitely not complaining about. My company has got through this year reasonably well and I am very grateful for that fact.

On the 5th I had an appointment at the fertility clinic and then on the 15th I had to go for an MRI to confirm my probable diagnosis of adenomyosis. Basically it’s where the endometrium (i.e. the lining that comes out when you have your period) grows into the muscle part of the uterus – where it’s not supposed to be – causing cysts and an uneven surface which a) prevents implantation and b) if an embryo does somehow manage to implant causes the pregnancy to end in an early miscarriage. My clinic has recently approved a new IVF protocol for adenomyosis so we’ll hopefully be trying that soon.

As always, I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas trying to organise, declutter and clean. I ordered a basket online (from Butlers) and it now houses all my reusable gift bags – some I bought, quite a few are from Amazon (yes I know what people think of that company but I can’t control where people send me gifts from!). I actually think their bags are really pretty so I like to keep and reuse them. The bags used to live on the shelf above, where they looked a mess and fell off every time I tried to get some wrapping paper or just brushed past them when I went to open the window. That corner looks so much tidier now!

Jan’s friend from choir came round to study I think twice or maybe three times at the beginning of the month. Then on the 13th another friend of his from a different choir invited us round to her place to bake Christmas biscuits. Jan said he trusted her to have been careful, and I knew we had, so we went and made sure to keep our distance at all times. I made sure to both wash and disinfect my hands before touching any dough, and of course it went into the oven anyway, which I am sure would have killed even the most persistent of virus particles! On the 21st the same friend came by for a cuppa and to drop off some of the biscuits from the baking session – we had made the dough for them but had to leave before they went into the oven. Somehow the conversation got round to where we would be spending Christmas (at home, obviously!) and ended up with Jan inviting her to our place on Christmas day. She was very excited to experience an English Christmas so I ended up making a full Christmas dinner for 3… there was so much food that Jan and I had a second full Christmas dinner on Boxing Day and then ate turkey sandwiches for the next 2 days, finally finishing the turkey on the 28th. I had also bought loads of picnicky/snack type things so I didn’t need to cook an actual, proper meal again until the 30th. Yay!

I hadn’t been out much before Christmas – other than the day we baked the biscuits I only left the house for my 2 appointments, 3 trips to the post office (one on Jan’s behalf), supermarket runs (roughly once a week) and a trip out on the 23rd to buy a Christmas tree. And of course my weekly walk, where I try not to come anywhere near people. Jan and I also went for a walk on Christmas Eve and saw about 15 storks in a field – there are 11 on the photo below, but there were more of them further to the left.

Since we clearly hadn’t been able to stay 2 metres apart from Jan’s friend at all times on Christmas Day (my table is too small for a start!), I put myself into semi-isolation in the days following Christmas, only venturing out for a walk on Boxing Day (avoiding people to the extent that I crossed the road if I saw anyone), to the post box round the corner to send New Year cards to Post Pals, and for a supermarket run on the 30th – we needed milk, bread and cereal before everything closed down for 2.5 days. I went at around 4 p.m. and it was pretty much empty.

Speaking of cards, I finished stitching my Christmas cards and got them all posted at the beginning of December. I baked cranberry and pistachio biscuits/cookies on the 9th, then also baked Marzipan-Orange Biscuits and Lemon-Almond Biscuits on the 15th since I had taken the day off for my MRI and apparently didn’t think we had enough sweet stuff?!

We skyped with my mum and brother and Christmas Eve and also spoke to Jan’s mum, mum’s partner and Jan’s sister via WhatsApp video call, then I called my dad on Christmas night after our guest left and my grandma called me on Boxing Day. Jan also spoke to his dad on Christmas Day. And on New Year’s Eve we managed to arrange a Zoom meeting with my mum and brother plus my sister and brother-in-law. Apart from that our New Year’s Eve celebrations consisted of a dinner of stuffed peppers followed by Christmas pudding, then making and drinking mulled wine. Obviously the fireworks in Basel were cancelled and we wouldn’t have gone to them even if they weren’t. We thought about walking up to a nearby hill at midnight but it was pouring down so instead we just went onto our balcony and watched the few private fireworks that made it above the surrounding buildings, then came back inside and watched Dawn French on the TV… but of course by then it was technically January.

What else? Well I can tell you that I read a grand total of 9 books in December, which is a lot for some but hardly any for me. Christmas is the one time that I actually watch a lot of TV on purpose – over the festive period we watched White Christmas (first time I had seen it), The Snowman (it’s tradition!), Shirley Valentine (I stayed up specifically because I’ve been wanting to re-watch it for years), the second half of Grease, the Repair Shop Christmas special, a Pointless Christmas special, Matilda, Frozen… I don’t remember if there was anything else. In addition, Jan got the very first series of Dr Who for Christmas – the idea being that my dad can buy him the next series each Christmas and stop asking me what to get him! – so we watched some of that. Jan’s sister got us a pub quiz game for Christmas and Jan got me a board game called Istanbul and we played both of those.

And that was December. All in all I can’t really complain. It was a fun month filled with my favourite things: cross stitch, baking, and time spent with Jan. I hope you also had a good one and that even if your Christmas had to be different than usual you were able to make the best of it and have a nice time.

A Photo an Hour: 12 December 2020

Hello lovely readers! I’m juuuust sneaking this post in before the end of the month. The chosen date for the final photo an hour of 2020 was 12th December. I didn’t actually realise until I belatedly chanced across a tweet though, so my photos start halfway through the day. Let’s have a look at what I did, shall we?

12 noon. Cross stitching one final Christmas card.

1 p.m. Shower time. Yes I was in my pyjamas until then. Sssh – this is a judgement free zone!

2 p.m. Dressed and heading out.

3 p.m. Walked into town, now to drop off some books (goodbye and good riddance Truly Devious series!). I get quite a few of the books I read from this and the other free public bookcases dotted around town – particularly older books and German ones. I found The Bell Jar in this very bookcase!

4 p.m. Picked up some shopping, now heading home. Cue awkward bus photo – although it was surprisingly empty.

5 p.m. Home, shopping put away… time to hoover.

6 p.m. Finally writing a long overdue blog post (this one, if you’re curious).

7 p.m. Peeling potatoes for tea.

8 p.m. Food is ready. I may have made too many peas!

9 p.m. Back to cross stitching.

10 p.m. Determined to finish a book before going to sleep! I had 120 pages left.

11 p.m. Final photo of the day… joining Eeyore in bed. I took my book with me and did indeed finish it, but didn’t take any more photos.

And that’s it. Not a particularly exciting day. But then again, they never are. Until next year, photo an hour fans!

The book review of 2020

This is my fifth year doing this – how time flies! I got it from Kezzie. The original, with slightly different/more categories was from The Perpetual Page Turner – the link is to this year’s version. I am also linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books yearly favourites.

Best book you read in 2020:

As always, this is a really difficult question to answer. I read a lot of good books this year. But I think it has to be The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. The first half is wonderful and magical and I so wanted to visit Papa Jack’s Emporium myself and play with the toys and meet Sirius, the patchwork dog. Then the second half came along and absolutely devastated me. I read this in February and I am still mad at one particular character!

Best children’s fiction:

I have read a lot of really good children’s fiction this year and it’s impossible to choose just one, so have two: A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison (this is the sequel to A Pinch of Magic, which I also read in 2020, but I liked the second book better) and Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby.

Best crime fiction:

The Whisper Man by Alex North. There was a bit in the middle that was a little slow, but it was very creepy and overall a good crime/police procedural novel.

I also want to mention Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone here, although it’s not really crime as such but more thriller/suspense. It is an excellent book though and deserves to be mentioned somewhere.

Best classic:

I wasn’t sure whether I had even read a classic this year, but I went through all my books and found two that I think count – at least as modern classics maybe? Of those, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was my favourite.

Best non-fiction:

It will surprise absolutely nobody to learn that I read a grand total of two non-fiction books this year. I absolutely loved both, but I’m going to go with Born a Crime by Noah Trevor.

Best dystopian fiction:

I didn’t read much dystopian fiction this year… I think real life was dystopian enough! I think Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle counts though – although it’s more apocalyptic. I can only think of one other dystopian book I read and I didn’t love it, so yeah.

Best YA:

This is hard, but I’m going to say With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Most surprising (in a good way) book read in 2020:

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm. I don’t usually read a lot of space books and I wasn’t sure what to expect from a children’s book set in space, but this ended up being one of my favourite books of the year.

Book You Read In 2020 That You Recommended Most To Others:

Umm… the only book I can remember recommending constantly in 2020 is Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and I didn’t read that this year. I did read the third book in the series, Hollowpox, in November though so maybe I can count that instead?

Best series you discovered in 2020:

There are two series I could choose for this, so I’m going to use one here and the other for the next question. So, the Pages and Co series by Anna James. I read books 1 and 2 this year and gave both 5 stars.

Favourite new to you author you discovered in 2020:

I have enjoyed books by a few new to me authors in 2020, but for this question I like to use an author I’ve read at least two books by. So Holly Jackson. I have read both of her books and loved them both.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love But Didn’t:

This isn’t a book but a series, although I was also disappointed with the first book in its own right. The Truly Devious trilogy. The first book made me mad with the way it ended on a cliff hanger, the second book was actually pretty good, and most of the third book could easily have been condensed into the second book plus the reveal of who was responsible for the present-day deaths and why was underwhelming. There is actually a fourth book now, but it follows a different mystery and I won’t be reading it – unless someone gives it to me or I find it somewhere for free. But I won’t go out of my way to read it.

Best Book That Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone Or Was A New Genre To You

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. A political thriller – not my usual genre at all – it ended up being a three-star read, which is better than I expected. I would never have picked it up if it wasn’t part of the BBC Big Read!

Book You Read In 2020 That You’re Most Likely To Read Again In 2021:

As I say every year, it is highly unlikely that I will re-read a book again so soon. I will hopefully read Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilanwith my kid(s) someday.

Favourite Book You Read in 2020 by an Author You’ve Read Previously:

I feel like I’m choosing too many children’s books, but I think I have to go for Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter.

Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Umm, I picked up Potkin & Stubbs by Sophie Green because it was the Middle Grade Monthly book club pick for September. I had been meaning to read it anyway, but only because of Jade who is a) one of the hosts of said book club and b) the only reason I had even heard of the book in the first place!

Favourite Cover of a Book You Read in 2020:

I love the cover of All the Things We Didn’t Say by Sara Shepard! Sadly the book itself was disappointing.

Book That Had The Greatest Impact On You In 2020:

This Lovely City by Louise Hare. The way the Windrush immigrants were treated – after being invited to come and work in Britain – was awful and this book will stick with me for a long time.

Book You Can’t BELIEVE You Waited Until 2020 To Read:

The Shining by Stephen King. It actually came on holiday with me twice – the first time we left the suitcase on the train and the second time I found no time at all to read. But I finally read it this year and it was excellent.

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. The ending was most definitely a “wait… what?!” moment that had my dying to read the sequel and get some answers. Although I have since bought the sequel and not yet read it.

Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2020 (be it romantic, friendship, etc):

Ash and Lunah’s relationship in Escape from Aurora (Frostheart book 2). Actually, I love Ash’s relationship with the entire Frostheart crew and with Tobu as well, but he and Lunah are just the best team.

Most Memorable Character In A Book You Read In 2020:

Would it be weird to say the house in The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson? It really did feel like a character in its own right!

Genre You Read The Most From in 2020:

I actually kept a tally this year and my most-read genre was fantasy – primarily because of all the children’s fantasy books I read.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2020:

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski. It kind of reminded me of the Faraway Tree books, except the various worlds were inside suitcases instead of at the top of a tree. I really enjoyed reading about the different places and wondering what odd feature the next one would have.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020:

In the Skin of a Monster by Kathyrn Barker. It’s a slightly bizarre and confusing book that not everyone would enjoy but I loved it and, yes, it made me cry.

Book You Read in 2020 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out:

I’ve never seen anyone else talk about Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan. It’s a story about friendship and being different, and partly also about prejudice (against immigrants, in particular) and I really think more people should read it.

Total books finished in 2020 (so far): 184 (but I am hoping to finish my current read – Heartbreaker by Tania Carver – and make it 185).

Now some statistics: The longest book I read in 2020 was Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb at 757 pages and the shortest book I read was Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke with 82 pages.
The first book I read in 2020 was Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, and as of right now, the last book I finished was Greetings from Witness Protection by Jake Burt.
Finally, inspired by a post Alexandra made on Instagram earlier this year: I read a shameful 29 books by BIPOC/BAME (pick your acronym) authors in 2020. Next year I plan to keep track throughout the year and do my best to read a lot more.

Now go check out the link up and discover everyone’s favourite books of 2020.

A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2020

Hello friends! Today I am bringing you a round-up of my photo an hour from November, in the hope that I might actually get December’s posted before the end of the year… hahahaha. We’ll see. Anyway, here’s what I got up to on November’s chosen date:

10 a.m. Washing some dishes while I wait for the kettle to boil (that spoon is one that failed to get clean in the dishwasher!)

11 a.m. Quickly getting some hoovering in before quiet time starts at 12.

12 noon. Getting on with some cross stitch… not long left to finish those Christmas cards.

1 p.m. Went to get the mail and this book had arrived. Yay!

2 p.m. Jan got up (about 15 minutes before I took those photo), so I could finally put on some washing.

3 p.m. Tea break! Green tea for me since it’s ever so slightly healthier (maybe) and we’re hoping to be able to carry on with fertility treatment soon.

4 p.m. Waiting for Jan to have a shower so we can go for a walk. I was literally just standing waiting so I had no idea what to take a photo of!

5 p.m. Walking through a park. This is the entrance to a Kindergarten!

6 p.m. Home… time to cook tea.

7 p.m. Corned beef hash doesn’t look very attractive but it tastes good!

8 p.m. More stitching – it’s getting there!

9 p.m. Making hot chocolate. Yum.

10 p.m. On to the back stitch!

11 p.m. Final photo of the day. Off to bed with a book.

As always, photo an hour was hosted by Jane and Louisa.

November 2020 recap

Hello! Happy December. I’m not even going to bother expressing any surprise about how we got here already. Honestly, I’ve given up trying to understand time. There are days that I have to work and days that I don’t have to work, and my phone knows the difference. (Note to self: remember to turn off week day alarm once work finishes for Christmas). Anyway, today I am here to talk about November.

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland were high at the beginning of the month and slightly less high by the end (still around 4,000-5,000 per day, i.e. way too high, but better than the previous 9,000-10,000 per day!) – mostly thanks to some of the French-speaking cantons introducing stricter measures, basically amounting to a mini lockdown. Although numbers overall decreased, in Basel they actually rose so towards the end of the month Basel-Stadt (the city canton) also introduced stricter measures. All shops stayed open but bars, restaurants, swimming pools and gyms were made to close. I think I only went into town twice anyway – once to the refill/zero-waste supermarket and once to the post office by the train station to send some Christmas presents (we do have a post office in our town but it closes at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and I’m never ready by then). When I did venture out of the house it was either to go to our local supermarket, take away recycling, post Christmas cards or to go for my weekly walk.

Speaking of Christmas cards… I finished making, wrote and posted Christmas cards for every Post Pals family before November was over! When I say I “made” cards that basically means sticking on either cut out shapes (baubles, Christmas trees, stars) or some stickers and adding a greeting. Very simple cards. I also continued cross stitching Christmas cards for family and friends. I actually took two days off at the beginning of the month to work on them. On the first day I made all the designs I had stitched up to that point into cards while listening to an audiobook (Rise of the Jumbies, if you’re wondering) and the next day I stitched my little fingers off. I was hoping to have them all finished by December but I haven’t quite managed it – there’s only about 2 more to do though. I also bought, wrapped and posted most of my Christmas gifts – or ordered them to be sent directly to the recipients. I still have a couple more to sort but I’m mostly finished.

I managed to do a little bit of decluttering in November, although honestly it doesn’t appear to have made any difference whatsoever. I actually made a tiny space on my bookshelves, which I expect to be quickly filled again once Christmas rolls around!

On the subject of books, it was Believathon so I mainly read children’s books. We consistently watched Richard Osman’s House of Games every week day (sometimes Jan had a meeting at 7 p.m. so I recorded it and we watched it when he was finished). I also watched Children in Need and caught an occasional episode of Father Brown. At the end of the month I ended up watching a documentary about Diego Maradona, which I honestly had no interest in but Jan put it on while I was trying to finish cross stitching a card so I didn’t have much of a choice.

I treated myself to a dress from Popsy Clothing (it’s got penguins on it! I wanted the one with multi-coloured reindeer but it had sold out) and also dyed my hair. The box said it’s “mauve”, although as always it didn’t work the way it’s meant to on my hair. Here’s a photo:

Unlike what feels like the entire rest of the world, I did not put my tree up in November – party because I didn’t even see any for sale until the 27th but mostly because Jan will never in a million years let me have one until at least 23rd December – and even that’s a compromise! Apparently “it’s a Christmas tree, not an advent tree!” If he had his way, it would go up at noon on Christmas Eve, just like when he was growing up but I’ve managed to talk him round to the 23rd. I did, however, bake Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents – an Austrian speciality) on the first Sunday of advent and I put up a grand total of three decorations on the final day of the month.

Jan’s friend continued to come here to study occasionally – sometimes once a week, sometimes twice, some weeks not at all. (All very coronavirus safe – she arrives with a mask on, we greet each other from a distance with no physical contact and we all sit in separate rooms to work.)

That’s all I can think of.
Oh wait, I almost forgot. Jan’s choir was supposed to have a concert in November but since all events ended up being cancelled they decided to do it as a live stream. It was actually quite nice to sit and watch from my living room with a cup of tea and my cross stitch. Ha! They fell into a grey area since amateur choirs weren’t allowed to practice but professional ones were and around half of that choir are professional/were actually getting paid for doing the concert.

Right, that really is it now. I hope you’re all well and not too stressed in the run up to Christmas. Stay safe and stay cosy (unless it’s summer now where you are, in which case stay cool!)

A Photo an Hour: Saturday, 31 October 2020

Hello friends! On Saturday (which was *somehow* almost a week ago!) I took part in November’s photo an hour, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t even written a blog post for October’s one yet! So that’s what I’m doing now. The chosen date was Halloween, but that isn’t actually a thing in Switzerland so for me it was just a normal Saturday. Jan was out at choir practice for most of it, leaving me to clean the flat…

9 a.m. An earlier start than usual since Jan had to be at his rehearsal by 9:30. Starting the day with tea, of course – in the best mug!

10 a.m. Getting started on another cross-stitched Christmas card.

11 a.m. Enough sitting around… time to change the bedding.

12 noon. Emptying the dishwasher (so that I can refill it…)

1 p.m. A quick break for lunch. Lentil hotpot thingy.

2 p.m. I missed the morning window for hoovering (should have done that before emptying the dishwasher!) but now quiet time is over so I’m allowed.

3 p.m. Another task that had to wait until after quiet time – taking away some recycling.

4 p.m. Home – after a stop at the supermarket. Now to clean the bathrooms.

5 p.m. “Make apple and blackberry crumble” wasn’t on my last of things I *needed* to do that day, but I made one anyway (and it was delicious).

6 p.m. Back to cross stitch while dinner cooks. (I have no memory of what we actually ate).

7 p.m. Persuaded Jan to watch Heathers with me while we ate. I don’t think he was impressed, but I still like it.

8 p.m. Still watching Heathers while cross stitching.

9 p.m. Still stitching away. Nearly finished!

10 p.m. In my pyjamas, about to go to sleep. At 10. On a Saturday. Because apparently I’m 90.

And that was my Halloween 2020. Maybe I’ll actually get round to posting November’s photo an hour soon… not that it’s any more exciting than this one but I like having them.

October 2020 recap

Hello friends! Kristen isn’t hosting her link up this month because she has too much going on, but I wanted to write a recap anyway because I like having them to look back on.

So, October…

Switzerland decided to allow large events with up to 1000 people – including allowing crowds at football matches – from 1st October even though coronavirus cases had been steadily creeping up throughout September. So we started October with an average of around 300 new cases per day and ended it with around 7000 cases per day… a fact which surprised absolutely nobody except, apparently, the Swiss Government. It took until 28th October for them to finally hold a press conference and introduce stricter measures (although individual cantons had introduced their own stricter measures before that). Those “stricter measures” ended up being masks to be worn in all public buildings (shops, museums, etc.), night clubs to close, bars and restaurants only allowed 4 people per table and have to close at 11 p.m., a maximum of 10 people allowed to get together, events back down to a maximum of 50 people, stricter rules for contact sport and choirs, and universities had to switch to virtual classes. That’s it. While the rest of Europe went into some kind of lockdown or “lockdown light”, Switzerland’s shops remain open, many employers still insist on everyone coming into the office (even if they could theoretically work from home) and plenty of people are continuing to go to bars and restaurants as normal. Yay Switzerland!

Four days before the new measures were announced, one of Jan’s choirs had a concert. In the days leading up to it a few cantons introduced measures banning choirs from singing, but Basel wasn’t one of them. So the concert went ahead – with a live stream as an option for those who didn’t want to risk actually going to the event. Obviously I had to physically be there and show my support though. I had a ticket for row 9, which was the first row – all the seats from rows 1-8 had been removed, so there was a huge distance between the audience and the choir. Before entering the building everyone was asked to keep their distance from other people and wear a mask, and the entire audience had to wear masks throughout the performance as well – although I was disappointed that they hadn’t separated the seats so different groups were still sitting right next to each other. Luckily there was an empty seat on one side of me, so I made sure to face in that direction throughout the entire concert (I faced the front/towards the choir, of course, but at the same time looked towards my right if you get what I mean?). A friend of ours had a ticket but chose to stay home and watch the live stream.

Apart from the supermarket, the fertility clinic and my weekly walks, the day of the concert was the only time I properly left the house and went among people in October. Knowing the new measures were coming in 4 days, I went into town on the day of the concert to try and pick up a few Christmas presents while it was still possible. I also stocked up on craft supplies for all the Christmas cards I have to make.

Speaking of crafting, I finished making all my Halloween cards to send to post Pals families and got them posted out, then I started on Christmas crafts. Post Pals is having an auction soon to raise money so I made some things for that (cards and felt Christmas tree ornaments), made a start on my own Christmas cards and also stitched a birthday card for my little cousin in New Zealand.

A friend of Jan’s who he knows from choirs has been staying with her boyfriend throughout the pandemic and she was struggling because she couldn’t concentrate on her studies. He lives in a shared flat and someone was always around making noise, etc., so Jan offered for her to come to our place to work (don’t worry – he did ask me first whether it would be okay!). Since we moved our dining table into the spare room back in March to make an office for Jan, we had to fetch the other table in from the balcony – it’s technically also a dining table, but since we don’t have balcony furniture it usually lives out there. It looks exactly the way you would expect from something that’s been out in the weather, so I decided to buy a tablecloth for it. When I asked Jan what he thought his response was “It’s a tablecloth” but whatever, I like it! (And it was reduced to about a third of the usual price, so bonus.) It’s kind of big but I’m hoping to one day get a nicer and possibly slightly larger table that it will fit better.

So now that table/room is in use a few days a week. It’s all very coronavirus restriction-compliant – she has a mask on when she comes in and we stand apart from each other (no hugging!), she gets the dining room area all to herself (Jan and I each have separate “offices” to work in), she brings her own water bottle and if she has a cup of tea or coffee she places the cup in the dishwasher herself. And of course we have plenty of soap and disinfectant for hand cleaning. It’s probably safer than some actual workplaces!

At the end of the month I went on my usual autumn walk along a nearby stream, as I have every year since we moved here. Despite the lovely sunshine I saw precisely one person, sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. The photos for that will be up soon once I get around to sorting and resizing them.

Apart from that I read – although not as much as usual – and we watched Richard Osman’s House of Games regularly. I also persuaded Jan to watch Heathers with me on Halloween. He didn’t seem impressed, but oh well. I still like it. It’s better than some of the crap he’s made me watch (*cough* Indiana Jones *cough*).

And that’s all I want to tell you today. The days are getting shorter and shorter and cases of coronavirus are higher than ever (over 10,000 on two days last week!) so I will most likely be leaving the house even less in November, but we’ll see what I manage to report next month. Until then stay safe and keep smiling!

September 2020 recap

And just like that September is over! I feel like it’s flown by, even though I didn’t actually do anything. Seriously, I have no idea what I’m even going to write in this post! Obviously I did not manage to find the time or energy to blog… sorry about that. I didn’t mean to promise holiday photos and then disappear for a month. I will try to get something up soon. But today it’s the first Thursday of the month so I’m going to give you a recap, even though the What’s New With You link up doesn’t seem to be up yet. I hope everything is okay with Kristen!

So what is new with me? Honestly, nothing much. In September I read a lot – a total of 18 books, or I read 17 and listened to 1 if you want to be precise. I cross stitched a lot. My godson turned 8, which is scary. Surely he’s still a toddler? I made Halloween cards to send to Post Pals children (I still have another 10 left to do!).

I watched Richard Osman’s House of Games almost every week night – except when they moved it because of stupid athletics. On Tuesday I went to the office in Germany for the first time since March because a colleague was leaving and I wanted to see her one more time and say goodbye. It was fine. The trains weren’t too full – the one on the way back was more full than on the way there, but not to the extent of people standing in the corridors, crammed in like sardines (I specifically took an earlier train home because my usual train one is of the sardine variety).

I had to have more blood tests to rule out certain things after every attempt at IVF so far has either failed entirely or ended in miscarriage. When I first had it done back in July one value came back high so the tests had to be repeated. This time all was normal though, which means I don’t have to inject myself with blood thinners every day if I ever do get pregnant again (yay!) but also means we’re back to having no real explanation for why things aren’t working (boo!). I guess most people would give up at this point and say the universe doesn’t want them to be a mother, but we have two embryos left and I have every intention of using them!

I am continuing to going for walks once a week, even if it’s raining. Most of September’s weren’t too exciting though – I just went into town and stopped by the free public bookcase to drop off some books. One Sunday Jan came with me and we went for a walk in the woods, stopping to say hi to the horses.

Switzerland added the UK to its quarantine list, but it doesn’t matter because Switzerland was already on the UK’s quarantine list so I couldn’t have gone there anyway. It’s lucky we spent last Christmas in England since who knows when I will be able to see my family again? Germany added some parts of Switzerland to its list of risk countries, but Basel is currently okay. Cantons Geneva, Vaud and Fribourg are currently on the list.

And on a non-September related note, my brother turns 30 tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), which makes me feel ancient! So annoying that stupid covid means I don’t get to celebrate with him.

That’s it from me. What’s new with you?

August 2020 recap

Hello everybody! Here we are on the first Thursday of another month… is it just me or has September come around fast? As usual, I am linking up with the lovely Kristen to talk about what I did last month.

August was automatically a good month because we spent the first two weeks of it on holiday! We decided not to risk leaving the country, and instead did the Grand Tour of Switzerland (but in reverse – apparently you’re supposed to do it a specific way, which is why all the road signs only point in one direction. How does that make sense?!). We had an amazing time – drove over many mountain passes, saw lots of lakes, avoided people wherever possible. I know some of you are waiting to read all about our trip… by which I mean one person (who just happens to be Jan’s sister – hi!). I promise to get round to it soon. Sorting/resizing photos is just such a pain – but here are a few for now.

It was my birthday while we were away, so that was nice. We spent the night before in a mountain lodge so we got up ridiculously early to see the sunrise then went back to bed for an hour before breakfast. The next (and final) hotel wasn’t that far away, so even with a few stops it ended up being a day without too much driving, so we made it a fairly relaxed day and spent the afternoon in the spa at the hotel. In the evening we had dinner at the hotel, and Jan convinced me that I had to have dessert since it was my birthday. So overall it was a nice day – and in all honestly it kind of feels like the entire two weeks was one long birthday celebration so I can’t really complain!

August also marked the start of birthday cross-stitch season… which leads directly into Christmas cross stitch season (I am already late starting my Christmas cards!). Basically 90% of my free time for the rest of the year will be dedicated to cross stitch!

Other than that I didn’t really do much in August. Work, obviously, once we got home. I mostly had enough to do, but some days were a bit quiet. I finished ten books, which is less than usual but not bad considering I didn’t read a single page for the first 10 days of the month (despite taking two books on holiday with me!). Richard Osman’s House of Games came back on TV (repeats, but I only discovered it relatively recently so they’re still new to me) and we watched that. I love it – it’s the most fun thing currently on TV! I started making Halloween cards to send to Post Pals children. Jan had a socially distanced choir rehearsal/meeting/thing for the whole of last weekend (Friday evening, all day Saturday, most of Sunday – he came home for dinner on Sunday) so I used the time to stock up on craft stuff and then make cards.

That’s about it. Apart from the holiday my life remains as boring as ever. At least I was healthy in August! (Mostly – during my holiday I was still on the meds the doctor gave me so the allergies or whatever it was making me stuffy/dizzy in July and it took a while for them to fully work.)

I hope you’re all doing well. What’s new in your lives? Remember to check out the link up/say hi to Kristen.