Life is short

Candles

Yesterday, someone I went to school with passed away. This is actually already the second death of a person from our year group this year (and we’re not even 40 yet!), but the first was someone I never had much to do with. This woman is someone I hung around with in sixth form… I helped her get together with a boy she liked, who she later went on to marry and have children with. He’s now her widower, which is so weird to type. I knew she had been in hospital recently, but just a week ago, in response to someone offering to visit, she said she would be going home the next morning. From comments, I see that people who are in regular contact with her thought she had been getting better.

I don’t want to hijack her family and friends’ grief, which is why I’m posting on my blog (which, as far as I know, only one person from school actually knows about – and she wasn’t in our year). Having left that town as quickly as I could after high school, I hadn’t actually spoken to this girl in person since leaving sixth form, so I can’t claim to be devastated by her death. I was, however, shocked to read about it. We communicated occasionally on Facebook. I enjoyed looking at her photos of her (still quite young) children. So for her to just suddenly be gone, after such a short illness, has really brought home to me how short life is and that we really do never know what’s just around the corner. I may not have everything I want in life, but I am alive and I am healthy. It shouldn’t take the loss of someone else to remind me of that.

I wanted to insert some meaningful quote here, but I can neither think of nor find one, so I will just leave it at that. Life is precious, friends. Don’t take it for granted.

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March 2019 highs and lows

Good morning. Before getting into the link-up, can I just be really British for a second and talk about the weather? On Tuesday we had bright sunshine and highs of 22°C. Yesterday the high was down to 9°C and it was raining. And right now, at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, it is snowing. It’s not really settling (except on car roofs) – probably because of all the rain – but after we barely had snow all winter now it appears?! The Germans have a saying “Der April macht was er will” (April does what it wants – referring to the weather) and this year they’re certainly not wrong!

Anyway…  I’m trying a new format for What’s New With You? today. I don’t want to go back to “currently…” style posts (what I call “recent doings”) but I also felt like my structure-free ramblings aren’t all that interesting, so here’s something else. I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to stick with it. We’ll see how this one goes. Obviously I am linking up with Kristen, as always.

whats new with you

The highlights

  • The month started with Jan’s birthday, on 1st March. He probably wouldn’t count that as a highlight since if he had his way it would be just a normal day and he could just ignore his birthday. He doesn’t get his way though, so there were gifts and I cooked something nicer than usual… chicken breasts stuffed with goat’s cheese and wrapped in bacon. A vegan’s worst nightmare! Afterwards, there was cake. Bought, not baked – I had no time for baking.
  • Fasnacht (the Bael carnival) was at the beginning of May. We didn’t bother with the parades this year, but we did go to see the lanterns on display outside the cathedral. There was a surpirsing lack of Brexit – I guess we’re too ridiculous to even make fun of any more! Lots had environmental damage topics – some with pictures of the Rhine full of plastic.
  • We saw How to Train Your Dragon 3 at the cinema. You’re probably wondering why I’m including that as a highlight… it’s only the second time we’ve been to the cinema since moving to Switzerland, so it felt like something special. I cried at the film, because I’m a big softy.
  • In the middle of the month, we went to Zurich to see Sarah Millican – a British comedian. As expected, she was absolutely hilarious. Her humour is more along the lines of sex and farts than clever observances, but that’s fine. Still funny. In April we have Eddie Izzard to look forward to.
  • Jan and I went to Meiringen with the intention of visiting the Aare Gorge, but it turns out the gorge was still closed for winter (the Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame are also near there, but I already knew the train wasn’t going). Instead we quickly made a plan B and took the cable car up the Hasliberg. That day was also photo an hour, so you can read about it here.
  • Jan’s dad came to stay and we took him to the pub quiz. We did horribly and came second last (better than last, right?). The next day (Monday) was overcast so we thought about going to a museum but it turns out all of them are closed on Mondays! So we walked around the St Albans area of Basel, had lunch then climbed the tower of the town hall. After that we took a tram to the German border, walked across to Germany and then crossed the Three Countries Bridge (which I posted about here) and walked back to Basel via France. The footpath along the river is currently closed at the Basel end so we had to walk along the road, through all the industry. We reached the tram stop just as the rain started. Timing!

The lows

  • At the beginning of the month we found out our third IUI had failed. There will be no 2019 baby for us. We didn’t tell anybody when we were trying, but I can now reveal that we did one round in December, with a negative blood test on 4th January  (yeah – happy New Year to us!) and another in February/March, with one cycle trying naturally in between. Next step is IVF,  which we have to pay for entirely ourselves. I’m mostly excited to be moving forward, but it’s a big step so I have mixed feelings on it. How far is too far when it comes to trying to make a baby through science? Maybe I should just admit that nature never intended for me to be a mother? Who knows.
  • My due date for the twins was on the 16th. I was so hoping to be pregnant again by that time, but alas my life doesn’t work like that. It ended up being okay. Jan stayed in bed until nearly 12 – despite the fact that scaffolding was being put up from 8am onwards with lots of banging and what sounded like drilling. It made me wonder how life would be if we actually had two young  babies right now. Would he sleep through their crying? Of course , chances are they’d have been born early and, depending on how premature,  they may not even have made it home from hospital yet. Anyway… once Jan eventually got up and showered, we went to the cemetery. The boys have a concrete strip now with their names carved on it, which looks really nice. After paying them a visit we walked into town and had coffee and a snack at a café, then in the evening I lit a candle. It was nice to mark the occasion even in a small way.
  • Two days after my due date would have been my grandma’s 90th birthday. It’s still weird thinking of her house empty, waiting to be sold. The family will definitely never be the same without her.

    grandma
    My grandma and little me
  • Then it was Mother’s Day in the UK on 31st March. My mum and her sibling’s first one without their mother and, of course, my first as a mother who isn’t a mother and may never actually be a mother. Seeing everyone’s posts about their children hurt, but I got through it. Now I just have to get through German/Swiss Mother’s Day 😉

Other stuff

  • Since I pointed out to Jan that we have Film 4 he seems to put it on all the time. In March we watched The Seeker, Hugo, Ghostbusters (the new one) and Mrs Doubtfire (which Jan claims he had never seen. Scandalous!). That probably doesn’t sound like much, but I never watch four films in one month – and with the cinema trip it was actually five.
  • We had our radiators and windows replaced last week. At one point on Friday, there were eight builders in our flat, all doing various things to windows or blinds! The windows part got a bit noisy but I managed to mostly work through it, only taking a short break when they were actually drilling in my office. I’m just glad it wasn’t happening today. No windows plus snow? No thanks! The real inconvenience is yet to come – when they replace both bathrooms and the kitchen all at the same time. Obviously I will not be working from home during that time!
  • I did some cross stitch – including a birthday card for my friend’s son and a Loch Ness Monster for a Post Pals child. I’ve also been making Easter cards to send to Post Pals children.
  • Saturday, 30th March was my deep clean day, so I’ve managed to stick to my goal every month so far. I will probably skip April since we will literally be living on a building site and there will be no bathrooms or oven to clean! I did it the day after the windows were replaced and I was actually quite happy to hoover and dust – the builders did clean up after themselves but I felt like everything was still dusty. I also cleaned the oven even though Jan said there was no point if it’s going to be gone in a couple of weeks. But at least this way I won’t smell burning every time I turn it on for those two weeks. Also, if I skip it once I’ll never get back to it.
  • Speaking of goals… I have been doing absolutely terribly at eating fruit and veg. In fact, there have been days that I only managed a measly one or two portions. I’ve also put on wait… only a kilogram, but added to the 3kg I somehow managed to put on in one week in England it’s bad.
  • I read a lot of books again. __ to be precise. After a slow start to the month I didn’t think I would read very many but I surprised myself. Six of them were books I already owned (two were actually re-reads), so that’s good. If you want to know what I actually read come back on Tuesday for Show Us Your Books day.

That’s about it for March. I’m not sure what format my April post will take – you’ll just have to watch this space! In the meantime, check out the link up and also let me know what’s new with you.

40 before 40: progress report #1

St Chrischona TV tower

Since it is somehow 13th March already, which makes it exactly 5 months until my birthday and the end of year one of my 40 before 40, I thought I would give you a little progress report. Not that I’ve done much in the seven months since my last birthday, but I do have a few things to report on.

Number 2: Beat Jan at mini golf

Jan always beats me at mini golf and I was determined to beat him at least once. Amazingly, I actually managed this just a couple of weeks after starting the challenge. You can read about it here.

Number 5: Read the rest of the books from the BBC Big Read that I didn’t manage before turning 35

At the start I had 63 left to read and since last August I have finished five of them. Outlander, Trainspotting, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Woman in White and The World According to Garp.

Number 14: Read a book published in each year of my life ( =one book each from 1983 until 2023)

So far I have read books from 20 years, which is almost half (I need 41 in total). You can see them all here. Of course I have read multiple books for some years, but only the first one counts.

Number 16: Try 10 foods or dishes that I haven’t had before

I ate veal kidneys in Yverdon-le- Bains. Admittedly by accident because Jan didn’t know the French word for kidney so I only knew I was getting veal something. But it still counts!

Number 22: Visit a new place in Switzerland for each letter of my first name

So far, I have visited four – Burgdorf, Einsiedeln, Lugano and Yverdon-les-Bains. Not in that order. I actually went to Yverdon-les-Bains first. Nothing like beginning at the end 😉

So only one thing actually crossed off but quite a few in progress. Not a bad start. Obviously I won’t be able to complete number 14 until the year I turn 40 because I can’t read books that haven’t even been published yet 😉 but hopefully I will have a few more things completed the next time I check in… whenever that might be.

February 2019 recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second monthly recap of 2019. February has mostly been the month of boiling the kettle multiple times but never actually making a cup of tea, or making tea but not getting round to taking the teabag out, resulting in a ridiculously strong, lukewarm cuppa that I only managed to drink half of. I need to set a timer on my phone or something so I don’t end up getting so immersed in my work that I forget I actually put the kettle on.

Anyway, it is the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to link up with the wonderful Kristen for What’s New With You?

whats new with you

We started February in England. We flew over on 31st January and then spent most of the 1st February in my dad’s house waiting for our suitcase. Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed resulting in a short connection, so while we made it onto the second flight the suitcase didn’t. According to KLM, the courier was supposed to call to arrange a time, but he didn’t and so we waited. I took the opportunity to go through some of my stuff that was still at my dad’s, which he was pleased about. We ended up with about 30 books, a pile of CDs and a few DVDs that I didn’t want any more. Handily, a charity bag then came through the door specifically requesting books, DVDs, CDs and ornaments – usually they’re all for clothes – so that was cool. And I found a CD of photos that I spent ages looking for last year when my cousin wanted photos of our grandma… I knew it existed somewhere! It immediately went in my bag to come back to Switzerland with us. In the evening we had a table booked for a meal to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday (which was on 27th January). The suitcase hadn’t arrived by the time we had to leave but luckily I had put clean underwear in my hand luggage and the clothes I wore on the plane weren’t too terrible ;-). Plus my dad had a spare, unused toothbrush and my uncle picked one up for Jan while he was shopping, so we were at least clean and presentable. The suitcase finally showed up at about 8pm – we were at the pub so my dad’s partner signed for it.

The next day, finally wearing clean clothes, we met up with my mum and brother. We had lunch at a Wetherspoons (non-Brits: a cheap-and-cheerful pub chain that does alright food for a reasonable price) then went for a walk along the river – parts of which were frozen totally solid! When my brother had to go to work the rest of us went back to my mum’s, picked up my sister’s dog (who was staying there while my sister and brother-in-law were in Venice) and then had a walk up to the churchyard where my grandparents are buried. It’s also where Emily Wilding Davison is buried… claim to fame! (If you don’t know your history, that’s the suffragette who was killed by the king’s horse.) Tea was an Indian take away, before my mum drove us back to my dad’s house to finish packing. On Sunday morning we ate bacon sandwiches then my dad drove us to the airport. I brought a few books back with me, including my Narnia box set that I want to reread this year. There is still an entire bookcase full of books that I intend to bring to Switzerland at some point… I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled Jan is about that ;-). For some reason my dad also gave me two packets of mini malt loafs to take with me. I mean, I like malt loaf but it’s not something I particularly miss or crave. It did make a good breakfast for a few days though so I’m not complaining.

Emily Wilding Davison

On 5th February, it was 15 years since Jan and I got together. Unfortunately he had to work late so I celebrated by eating alone, finishing a book and almost finishing another. My perfect evening, tbh. He came home with chocolates for me and we ate the heart-shaped dessert I had bought (the perks of having an anniversary close to Valentine’s Day) the next evening. We then celebrated properly by going for a meal on the Saturday. We went to a restaurant called Rubino where the concept is set menus that are a surprise. You can choose meat or vegetarian and two, three, four or five courses. We went for four courses and I vowed to eat everything they gave me (unless it was hard boiled eggs, which make me sick). I did indeed eat everything – including the mushroom course. There were three types of mushrooms and I can’t say I enjoyed any of them. The pepper encrusted cheese and quince pieces that came with them were delicious though. For drinks, we went with the wine accompaniment, which meant a different wine with each course, selected by the restaurant.  I took zero photos because I just wanted to be in the moment and celebrate our anniversary so you’ll just have to believe me when I say everything looked and tasted delicious (except the mushrooms!). Sunday was rainy and windy so we had a lazy day. I stitched a design for my cousin’s wedding card (no photo because it had their names on it) and finished a book. We were planning to go to the quiz but the friend we were meeting didn’t want to venture into the storm so we stayed home and ordered take away instead. Jan watched TV and I started another book (Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers, if you’re interested).

The following weekend “Show Us Your Books” hosts Jana and Steph organised a readathon. I had never taken part in a readathon before! It was very relaxed – basically start reading at any point on the Friday (in my case it had to wait until after work), finish at any point on the Sunday, post photos on Twitter or Instagram and tag the hosts. Jan had an all-day choir rehearsal on the Sunday so it was the perfect day to do nothing but read. That Saturday was also Photo and Hour day – you can see my hourly photos here.

And then it was the last weekend of the month. Craziness. After January seemed to drag on for a thousand years, February felt like it was over in a flash. I mean, I know it’s the shortest month, but there were still supposedly four whole weeks in there! I actually had the Thursday and Friday off since I needed to use up two days of holiday from last year before they expired, so it was a long weekend for me. Thursday was appointments all day, so I was only really home for lunch then dinner. Friday was my monthly deep-clean day – second month in a row that I’ve cleaned the oven. Go me! Then Jan came home from work on the Friday and suggested we go somewhere the next day. He suggested Lugano and since it’s a bit far to do justice to in a single day we spontaneously decided to book a hotel and have a weekend away. Saturday was cloudy, Sunday less so, and both days were warm. It was honestly just nice to get away and have a relaxing break, just the two of us.

In between weekends I worked. A lot. This is becoming a theme. At least I’m collecting plenty of overtime, which may be useful at some point. And actually this week has been a lot quieter so maybe March will be the month of normal working hours? I managed to drink more water in February, which is something, but I didn’t manage to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day – or even most days. Must try harder with that!

And that was my month. Going forward, I feel like I want to try out a new format for these catch-up posts because this recapping (mainly) weekends feels like a lot of uninteresting text to force you to read. We’ll see. For this month I’m afraid you’re stuck with my ramblings 😉

Why not visit the link up and see what the rest of blog land has been doing recently? And while you’re at it maybe write a post and link up yourself. Or just tell me what’s new with you in the comments.

A Photo an Hour: 16 February 2019

Over a week ago, I took part in February’s photo an hour with Jane and Louisa. I had planned to write up my day over the weekend but instead we spontaneously decided to go to Lugano. So here I am finally posting about it over a week later. Whatever. I was also taking part in my first ever readathon that weekend, organised by Show Us Your Books hosts Jana and Steph, so my day involved quite a lot of reading.

Let’s just get on with it shall we?

9:30 a.m. Morning cuppa… a literary mug seemed appropriate for readathon weekend.

10:30 a.m. Reading in my pyjamas

11:30 a.m. I had breakfast. By the time the hour was up I had finished eating, so my photo was a very uninspiring one of an empty plate. (I had toast with fig jam if you’re wondering).

12:30 p.m. I finally actually had a shower and got dressed. A miracle?

1:30 p.m. Another tea and on to my next book.

2:30 p.m. I had to pop to the supermarket for some bits.

3:30 p.m. Back home and back to reading

4:30 p.m. Reluctantly washing the dishes.

5:30 p.m. Emptying the dishwasher.

6:30 p.m. Time to start cooking.

7:30 p.m. Colourful food!

8:30 p.m. Jan put on The Great British Sewing Bee. It was surprisingly compelling viewing.

9:30 p.m. Changed into clean pyjamas and back to reading.

10:30 p.m. Time for bed. Introducing Cuddles the bear, who I picked up from my dad’s at the beginning of the month.

If you’re interested in taking part in Photo an Hour, the next date is 23rd March. Simply take a photo every hour to show what you’re doing and post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #photoanhour or save your photos and put them into a blog post once the day is over(or you can do both, like me).

Beautiful stars

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but things kept getting in the way.

A few weeks after we lost the boys, I unexpectedly received post from the lovely Alison, aka Fat Dormouse. Inside the envelope was a card with a lovely message that made me cry and a beautiful zentangle.

stars zentangle

It’s now hanging in the corridor, just outside our bedroom, where I can look at it every day and remember our tiny stars. Once again thank you so much Alison for thinking of us.

The kindness of fellow bloggers never fails to amaze me. From wonderful gestures like this to a simple email just to check in and see how I’m doing. It is all appreciated. I may have never met most of my long-term readers, but I consider each and every one of you a friend ❤ (My real-life friends have been fantastic too but the kindness of what are, essentially, “Internet strangers” is honestly overwhelming.)

January 2019

Ah, January. The month that should have been my last one at work before going on maternity leave. Instead it’s just the start of what feels like it’s going to be a long year. I mean, there’s still a chance I could end up with a baby in 2019, a December baby could still happen, but it’s hard to believe I’ll ever be able to conceive again when some days I find it hard to believe I ever conceived in the first place. A combination of that, the cold, dark days and the relentlessness of work made it difficult to be positive. Mostly I was just tired. I either need a holiday or spring to hurry up… or a combination of both. I’m okay though. Some days are just hard.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about what I got up to in January. And to link up with Kristen, of course, because link ups seem to be the only thing I post these days!?

whats new with you

We started the year with a slow day. I mean, we were up relatively early to have breakfast with a friend who had stayed the night, but neither of us actually left the house on 1st January. We watched something. I don’t remember what. The BFG? Or was that in December? Maybe it was The Jungle Book. No clue. Then I started my first book of the year, which was Far from the Madding Crowd if you’re interested. It took me days to finish.

2nd January was my last day of freedom, and Jan was also off because it’s a holiday in Zurich. Berchtold’s Day. Don’t ask me! We got a car and drove to Einsiedeln. There’s a big abbey there that I can only show you the outside of because you’re not supposed to take photos of the inside. Some people were, of course, but I am a good girl ;-). There was snow, so that was nice… but cold! We then went to a café and had hot chocolate and cake. We wanted to drive to Glarus then to Lake Lucerne and finally to Schwyz, but once we got to Glarus we discovered that the pass to get to the lake was closed and we had to drive back the way we had come. We stopped at a shopping centre where we found some mini drawers for my craft stuff then we drove to the motorway and just came straight back to Basel. Schwyz will have to wait for another day.

Einsiedeln Abbey

My first day back at work was a long one because I had to be in the office on my 2nd day, meaning I worked 9.5 hours on my first day back to make up for only working 6.5 hours the following day (and even though my working day is shorter when I go into the office, it’s a two-hour train ride to get there, so overall the day is longer). I was so glad my first day back was a Thursday and the weekend came after a mere two days!

The first weekend of the year was pretty uneventful. On the Saturday we went to the furniture shop where we bought the light for our “home office”. It hasn’t been working properly for a while and Jan wanted to ask them about it. There’s another branch of the place where we bought the mini drawers in the same area so we also went there and bought a third set. I finished reading Far from the Madding Crowd and started my second book of the year. Sunday was going to be the day the tree came down (6th January… it’s the tradition) but we discovered it wouldn’t be picked up until the 14th so we decided to let it stay for another week. Last year we took the tree down on the 6th then realised too late we had to wait 2 weeks for another collection day so it sat on the balcony for ages and dropped needles everywhere. So this year it stayed. I did take down most of the other decorations on the 6th though. And we hung this year’s calendar… most likely the last time it will show the correct month until about April (typing this has reminded me that 7 days into February it hasn’t been changed yet). I started stitching my grandma’s birthday card then stopped when I ran out of the right thread colours – the two colours I needed to complete it were ordered but hadn’t arrived yet.

drawers
Jan took the legs off two of the sets of drawers so I could stack them

The following weekend was a fairly boring one. Saturday was mostly housework and I wrote two pen pal letters… I’m way behind on my replies! Sunday we took the tree down ready for collection the next day. The living room looks so boring and empty. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card hadn’t arrived, so instead I started cross stitching a motif to make a birthday card for a friend’s son. I still haven’t actually made the card and his birthday is in 8 days so I need to get a move on. While I stitched we continued watching Season 2 of Pushing Daisies.

On weekend number three, Saturday happened to be photo an hour day. You can see my hourly photos here. It was sunny, so in the afternoon we decided to take a drive out. We went to Burgdorf in Emmental. The castle turned out to be closed for renovation so we didn’t stay long. We then drove towards the mountains but it got dark fairly quickly so we didn’t stop anywhere else, just took the scenic route back to the motorway then came home. We watched the final episode of Pushing Daisies while eating dinner. I am so mad that it was cancelled. There are things I need answers to! Sunday was a lazy day. I started cross stitching a unicorn that would later become a card for a Post Pals child and we watched some random stuff on TV, including Tatort. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card finally arrived the next day (Monday), so I spent that evening working hard to get it finished so it could be posted.

On the fourth and final weekend of the year, Jan had a choir rehearsal weekend so I had the place to myself. Saturday was the first deep-clean day of the year… I’m determined to at least keep that resolution (not doing so well on the drinking water one). I changed the bedding, cleaned the oven, hoovered and mopped, scrubbed the shower. I also picked up a prescription and took books to a free public bookcase. Not bad! Sunday was my grandma’s 80th birthday, so I called her, of course. (We spent the following weekend in England so we could celebrate with her, but that’s for February’s recap.)

In between weekends I worked, shopped, cleaned. I’ve been cooking a lot of soups/stews/broths lately – it’s the only way to cope with the grey miserableness of January. That and chocolate, which I’ve definitely consumed too much of recently. Thankfully all the Christmas junk food is finally gone so I can stop making a pig of myself now…

So that was January. February is a short month and then March brings my due date, two days later it would have been my other grandma’s 90th birthday and at the end of the month it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Can’t wait to get that one over with!

I hope your January was a good one. How’s everyone doing with their yearly goals so far? Don’t tell me you’ve all given up already 😉 Check out the link up to see what’s new with everyone else.