March 2020 recap

Hello friends! It’s time for my monthly recap. I’m linking up with Kristen for “What’s new with you?” – although I expect my answer is the same as most of yours, namely some form of lockdown. Nonetheless let me start at the beginning of the month, when life was still relatively normal.

whats new with you

1st March was Jan’s 40th birthday. He’s didn’t want a proper celebration but there were gifts and I made malted chocolate cake. We walked into town and had a coffee then in the evening we ate at one of the few restaurants in Basel that’s actually open on a Sunday. At that point Basel carnival, which was to have started at 4 am the next morning had been cancelled a few days earlier (along with other events with over 1,000 participants) but there was no indication yet of how much worse things were going to get. We briefly spoke to the staff about the situation and they were mainly worried about what they were going to do with the extra food and beer they had bought.

cake

The Friday after that I went into the office in Germany, then on Wednesday 11th June we were supposed to take a night train to Vienna and then continue on to Poland. After having mild cold symptoms starting on the Monday I woke up that day feeling much worse and called in sick to work. That day Poland also announced the closure of all museums, galleries, libraries, etc. Right up until I was supposed to leave for Zurich I was debating whether to risk travelling, but when I read that Poland were conducting health checks at the borders I decided not to  – also because I really didn’t feel up to spending 10 hours on a night train just to have to turn back. My temperature was higher than normal (when you’re infertile you get to know your normal temperature very well!) but never higher than 37.3ºC (a fever would be 38ºC). The next day I read that the Czech Republic  – which our train would have passed through  – had closed its borders for non-Czechs. Jan cancelled his holiday and worked from home on the Thursday then went into the office on Friday while I went to the doctors on the Thursday (who agreed I had nothing more than a cold) and got a doctor’s note for two days, which meant I got those 2 days of holiday back. I kept my holiday for the following week though since part of it was days I needed to use by the end of March anyway.

My family decided to still fly to Poland on the Friday since their flight wasn’t cancelled. An hour after they arrived the Polish government announced that bars and restaurants would close and there were also plans to close tge borders. Any foreigners still in the country at midnight on Sunday would have to go into quarantine. So on the Saturday MY family headed to the airport and were initially put on standby for the lsst flight out that day. Ryanair then announced two rescue flights so they were taken off the standby list to be placed on a rescue flight only for the employee to realise the flight was already full and put them on standby again. For a rescue flight where anyone who had managed to get a place was in the actual airport. So how exactly could there be standby places? Anyway, they also booked a place on a bus to Berlin for the next morning only Flixbus to also cancel all bus services to and from Poland. After hanging out at the airport all day they were finally told all flights had gonr and they should leave the airport. Luckily they were able to go back to the apartment they had booked! They had also managed to find a taxi driver who was willing to take them to Berlin and booked new flights from there. The next day there was briefly talk of them being dropped at the border between Poland and Frankfurt an der Oder then walking into Germany and taking a train to Berlin but the taxi driver then decided he would drive them all the way  (good people are out there! I hope he’s got back into Poland without issues!). After a night in a hotel in Berlin, my family caught their flight to Düsseldorf and transfer to Newcastle without issues. In the meantime Germany had closed its borders with Austria and Switzerland but flights to the UK were unaffected at that stage.

Meanwhile,  here in Switzerland, my canton  (Basel-Landschaft) became the first to announce that all bars and restaurants and all shops except pharmacies and supermarkets had to close. The national government then announced on the Monday that the rest of Switzerland had follow suit. I was supposed to have a dentist’s appointment in March but it was postponed until May! Emergency treatment only (no pain = no emergency) and that dentist isn’t actually able to open at all – only designated emergency dentists can see patients for urgent cases.

I spent my week off work mainly making Easter cards for PostPals  – with no idea how long the postal service would continue functioning or what delays there may end up being I wanted them all out as soon as possible. I also managed a bit of reading  (but less than I would have liked). And I copied all the necessary documents and sent off the form to renew my residence permit. Who knows when it will actually be processed now though! Jan’s work announced that anyone who could work from home should, so on the Monday he got a car and went to Zurich to fetch all the equipment he would need and then set up the spare room and has been working from there ever since. For most of that week the furthest I went was the post box (probably 3 minutes away) and a single trip to the supermarket (approx. 5-7 minutes walk), but on I think the Wednesday I had to take a tram to near the train station to pick up a prescription – I have a repeat prescription at the chemist next to my doctor’s surgery (the ones for IVF stuff are near the fertility clinic but I obviously won’t be needing any of that for a while!). The tram was basically empty but there were about 10 people at the pharmacy (queuing out the door since they had to keep their distance and there was a system in one place where you entered through one door and left through the other).

Weirdly, during that week it was the one year anniversary of my due date. So if things hadn’t gone wrong I would have had two 1-year-olds now and been returning from maternity leave in the middle of this pandemic. Not sure how I feel about that. It’s weird. However, I will say that I am sick of people either making “hilarious” jokes about a baby boom in nine months or complaining about being at home with their children – and I get that it’s hard being stuck inside and struggling to entertain them while the whole world seems to be collapsing, but those aren’t the complaints I mean. If you’ve seen them you’ll know.

Anyway… I went back to work on the 23rd and discovered that by then all my colleagues were working from home. Luckily that’s always an option so everyone already had everything set up. I also found out the company would be applying for “short term working” at some point and on the Friday my boss spoke to everyone via a Skype call and explained that they would be applying from 1st April and exactly how it would work, although I later learned they can’t apply for me. Luckily I’ve had plenty of work so far – currently I have enough to last until the end of Monday and I also have 24 hours of overtime I can use. That week (which was last week) I went out twice – to the supermarket on Thursday where I bought enough for a week and Jan and I went for a walk on the Saturday. As soon as we reached the field we wanted to walk around I felt guilty for adding to the masses  – I’ve never seen so many people there!

And that pretty much brings us to the end of March. The one other thing I have to mention is that I called the fertility clinic on Friday only to be met with an answering machine message stating they are closed and all current and future treatment is cancelled until further notice. I was expecting it but it’s still a bit of a blow. Who knows when we will be able to try another transfer now? I don’t expect it to happen before the summer anyway.

Let’s end this with something good… on the last day of the month I received mail that I didn’t remember ordering. It turned out to be a colouring book from my good friend Naomi with the message to make it pretty while stuck indoors. I know her in real life (from school!) but she has a blog, which you can read here.

And so endeth the first of my lockdown diaries.

How have you been keeping yourself occupied at home? Or are you one of those that still has to go out for work? (In  which case THANK YOU for ensuring that society keeps running, and if you work in care of the health service for looking after those in need. I for one appreciate your efforts).

One more thing – don’t forget check out the link up!

Reasons to be grateful

These are trying times (especially given that, today, I called my fertility clinic to find that – as expected – they’re closed and all treatments are cancelled until the government lifts its restrictions, so who knows when I will be able to even try another embryo transfer), but I still have a lot to be thankful, so I thought I would make a list. This post is about things I am grateful to have in my personal life, so it won’t mention the “key workers” who are keeping society running – and I hope it goes without saying that I am grateful to the medical professionals/care workers who risk their lives every single day to help people in need (a shout out to my mum who is a nurse here – hi mam!). This post was inspired by Kezzie, who always manages to find reasons to be grateful even in the darkest times <3.

Bee

1. I am not in isolation alone. As much as I am fine with being alone – most of my hobbies are solitary – not seeing anybody at all for weeks on end would be too much even for me! I still don’t see a great deal of Jan – it seems like without a commute he works even longer hours – but at least I know he is here, albeit locked in the spare room on his computer most of the time 😉

2. I love my flat. There are definitely people out there who don’t like where they’re living and I can’t imagine being stuck there for the foreseeable future would be much fun!

3. We have a balcony! Obviously I would prefer a nice big garden, but our old flat in Germany didn’t even have a balcony! Even if I can’t properly go out I can at least get some fresh air.

4. My employer is being very transparent about what measures our company will be taking and there’s a plan in place to make sure nobody has to stop work entirely and we can hold out on full pay for as long as possible. We will be applying for “short-time work” from April but the hope is that our customers will rally sooner rather than later and things won’t end up being as bad as they seem. Also grateful that – as of right now – I have enough work to last me until the end of next week before I even need to start using my overtime. (And this is all I’m going to say about work because I don’t really like to talk about it here).

5. Spring is here! The days are lighter and warmer and even though I can’t see any flowers from my flat I know they’re out there. (And I can see the trees that are budding and growing new leaves – hard times are so much easier when it’s light outside and everything looks alive.)

6. Books. I am always grateful for books, but I’m even more grateful now that I enjoy reading and have plenty of unread books that have been waiting on the shelves for far too long.

7. Solitary hobbies. Cross stitch and card-making are things I can do without even leaving the house, so really I haven’t even lost anything. (Other than the ability to go for hikes before it gets too hot. And, of course, we had to cancel our holiday but this is supposed to be a positive post so enough about that.)

8. That we went to the UK for Christmas. If we hadn’t, I have no idea when I would have got to see any of my family again. Before Christmas, the last time I had seen my dad and grandma was very briefly in February 2019!

9. That we have so much technology for keeping in touch these days. My dad called me via WhatsApp the other day, the boss addressed us all via Skype today, my mum is in constant touch via WhatsApp, and people have even messaged me on Facebook… and of course I’m constantly in contact with blogging friends via Instagram, Twitter and – naturally – their actual blogs. I may not be able to physically see anybody, but honestly I’m probably in touch more now than I would be if I actually lived in the same country as my friends and family!

10. We have plenty of food and our local supermarkets (mostly) do too. When I’ve noticed something missing it has usually been available again the next time I went in – so last Friday I couldn’t get tinned tomatoes but yesterday I managed. (The only loo roll available yesterday was the scented kind but luckily we currently have plenty ;-)).

Okay, that’s it. ten seems like a good number. I hope you all have a good weekend despite everything!

Tell me something you’re grateful for in the comments.

A Photo An Hour: 21 March 2020

Hello friends! Saturday was the day of the Photo an Hour linkup and, thanks to social distancing, for once I wasn’t the only one spending the entire day inside 😉

Here’s what I got up to:

10 a.m. Kettle is boiling for the first cuppa of the day.

11 a.m. Tooooast! (Just noticed the state of my toaster. Yikes!)

12 noon. Finally starting this book that everyone has been raving about.

1 p.m. About time I got in the shower.

2 p.m. More tea! Jan is up now so I’m making two.

3 p.m. Can’t concentrate on my book while Jan has crap TV on so I’ve escaped to my craft room (otherwise known as the office). Making Easter cards for Post Pals.

4 p.m. Putting on some laundry.

5 p.m. Getting some reading in while Jan’s in the shower.

6 p.m. Cooking. Soup seemed like a good idea.

7 p.m. Drinking beer, watching the news.

8 p.m. Getting some exercise with a virtual reality game. (Please ignore the mess!)

9 p.m. Back in my PJs.

10 p.m. Watching some YouTube.

11 p.m. Time for bed.

How did you spend your weekend at home? (I hope you were at home – unless you work for a health service, supermarket or similar, in which case THANK YOU!).

Photo an Hour is hosted by Louisa and Jane. The next link-up is on 18th April. Will we be allowed out by then? Only time will tell.

February 2020 recap

Hello friends. Post from me two days in a row? You lucky, lucky people! (Ha, I kid… obviously). I had to post today because it’s the first Thursday of the month and I need to link up with one of my favourite bloggers… the wonderful Kristen. She is awesome and you should really go over there and say hi.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I did last month, shall we?

whats new with you

Travel

Yes, we actually went places in February. Are you impressed? First, we went to Baden for an afternoon, which was the weekend after our anniversary so I called it our anniversary celebration (oh yeah… Jan and I have been together 16 years as of 5th February. We did not celebrate on the day though. Actually, Jan forgot that it was the 5th until I gave him a card/gift in the evening soo…). Baden is a spa town – the name means Bath – and we took towels, etc. thinking we might visit one of the thermal baths but that whole area of town was being renovated! We did get to out our feet in a hot pool near the river though. It’s a cute little town sandwiched between hills, with a great view of snow-capped mountains.

Then those of you that saw my photo an hour post will know we went to St Gallen for a weekend. We had been there before, when I was living in Austria, but I remembered absolutely nothing of what we saw that time and walking around the town nothing looked at all familiar so who knows what we even did that first time? We briefly saw the old town on the Saturday before it got dark, then on the Sunday we went for a walk up a hill (and saw more mountains in the distance) before visiting Rorschach, which is on Lake Constance. Sadly, after a beautiful day on the Saturday while we were mostly on the train, Sunday ended up being warm but clody. Oh well, you can’t have everything and it was nice to get away.

St GallenSt Gallen mountain view

Reading

I posted the first half of my reading round-up yesterday, so if you’re really interested you can have a look at that. Part 2 will be coming soon, but I can tell you know that there was quite a mixture – thrillers, non-fiction, children’s books. Wait and see 😉

Watching

We finished watching Good Omens and it was awesome. So well done! Which honestly was to be expected after the amount of effort Neil Gaiman put into it. Now I’m sad that it’s over. We also watched Edward Scissorhands because Jan randomly found it and I ended up waiting until it finished before going shopping. I don’t know if I watched anything else… Jan is always finding random things that I mostly ignore. If it’s a film I will sometimes watch, but now I can’t remember if they were in February or it was already March!

Craft stuff

I’ve been doing quite a bit of stitching again. Two birthday cards for friends’ children and a new baby card for a baby boy who is due in April – although so far it’s just the stitching, I haven’t made it into a card yet. I also made Valentine’s cards for a few Post Pals children because I had heart shaped cutting dies I wanted to try out. I only remembered to take a photo of one though!

Other/miscellaneous

– There’s not much else to say to be honest. At the beginning of the month I went to the doctor with acid reflux/heartburn and stomach pain. I was diagnosed with gastritis, most likely caused by stress and given proton pump inhibitors to take for 2 weeks. When I told Jan he said I didn’t have much stress… I’m very glad to hear that IVF and infertility are entirely unstressful for him! Needless to say he was soon put right 😉 I also pointed out that on top of the fact that failing to conceive is generally a source of stress (for people who aren’t him, at least!), I had two procedures involving my uterus in January, neither of which was pleasant (although I was admittedly anaesthetised for one of them). He conceded that okay, maybe trying to juggle constant doctor’s appointments around work without anyone getting suspicious, being on hormones for months at a time, etc. is possibly at least a little stressful! Phew, way too many brackets there. Anyway… I took the tablets and things seem to be better now, at least for the time being.

– Work was pretty slow for most of the month. I actually got a few large jobs in the last week of February that were just about enough to fill my time, but the other full-time English translator had very little to do. I honestly prefer being overworked to underworked… an empty plan makes me nervous! Hopefully things will pick up again.

– I’ve been pretty consistently using a eye cream that I got for Christmas and so far I haven’t noticed any difference… the lines are there, just as deep as ever. At least they’re not getting worse, I guess? If you’re reading this and you’re in your late twenties to early thirties, please start using cream under your eyes now. Trust me, you will thank me when you don’t wake up one day in your mid-30s and realise you look old!

– The decluttering continues. I put out another box of things with “free” written on it, including two candle holders that I never particularly liked. They were in there for ages after everything else had gone (although someone took the scented candles I had left inside them!) but eventually both the box and the candle holders disappeared… so now I’m not sure whether anyone actually took them to keep or just binned them, and I’ve also lost the box that I use to put things I want to give away outside. I checked afterwards and it wasn’t with all the paper that was waiting for collection (last Friday was paper day) so I don’t know where it is! Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have plenty of empty boxes.

Okay, this is beginning to get boring. You don’t want to know about my crow’s feet and attempts to rid myself of stuff! I thought I would have a lot to say this month but apparently I did less than I thought. Saw a little of Switzerland. Read a lot of books. A fairly standard month really.

What did you all get up to in February? Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to check out the link up!

Photo an hour: Saturday 15 February 2020

Hello friends! I’m posting this photo an hour round-up extremely late because I actually forgot I had done it. So that’s a thing. As always, this link up was hosted by Jane and Louisa and I originally took part on Twitter.

Here’s how my day went:

10 a.m. Gotta start the day with a cuppa!

11 a.m. Heading for a shower since we were supposed to be going out for the day.

12 noon Showered, dressed, now brushing my teeth.

1 p.m. Since Jan only got up at 12:30, we spontaneously decided to add on overnight stay to our strip. While he booked a hotel, I thre a few things in a suitcase.

2 p.m. Just hanging around, waiting for the boyfriend to be ready. Boring black tights today.

3 p.m. On a train with my book.

4 p.m. Still on the train, waiting to leave Zurich.

5 p.m. Another station… Uzwil apparently.

6 p.m. Made it to St Gallen – yay! Quick walk around the old town before it gets completely dark.

7 p.m. Dinner at the hotel was yummy.

8 p.m. Decided to have a beer – my first in probably a month. I’m not really drinking this year.

9 p.m. In the hotel room, looking at accommodation for our next trip!

10 p.m. Still discussing hotels in Poland.

11 p.m. Time for bed!

I won’t ask you how your day went since it was ages ago. But I will point out that the next photo an hour date is 21st March, in case you want to join in. Post a photo every hour on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #photoanhour or save up all your photos and write a blog post. It’s fun!

January 2020 recap

I’ve seen lots of people complaining about how long January was, but I actually think it went fast. I mean, we are more than a month into 2020 already… how is that even possible? And I have no idea how it went so fast considering I didn’t actually do anything, but I shall recap my month for you anyway.

As usual, I am linking up with the lovely Kristen. If you don’t know who she is all I can say is why on Earth not?1

whats new with you

Visitors/out and about

Weird title for this section, but it was the best I could think of. Anyway, we started the year watching fireworks over the Rhine with visitors from Germany. The fireworks in Basel don’t start until 00:30, so very definitely January and not December! The next day we all slept late then we had a nice brunch together before our visitors headed home.

On 4th January, we went to the theatre with a friend from one of Jan’s choirs. We watched something that called itself a “Basel musical”. The story was a bit strange but it was well done and funny. Another person from the same choir was performing… Jan knows a lot of talented people.

Then on the 19th, we took a tram and bus to Gempen with the same friend we went to the theatre with and hen walked up the hill. Gempen is slightly higher up than Basel city and we found the tiniest bit of snow! The view wasn’t the greatest though given the clouds. We had coffee/hot chocolate and cake in the restaurant before heading back to Basel. Not much of an afternoon out but it’s all I’ve got. Also, I don’t remember what the wooden sculpture was supposed to be. Sorry.

Reading

I feel like basically all I did in January was read. I completed the first round of Erin‘s challenge and then read lots more books. My total for the month was 22, although one of those was an audiobook. You will find out exactly what i read and my opinions soon, but my favourite book of the month was Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone.

Watching

As you may have seen if you read my photo an hour post, Good Omens finally started on the BBC! We have been recording it to watch later because it’s on far too late to actually watch while it’s on. We’ve watched the first three episodes (number 4 was on last night) and it’s exactly as well done as I expected it to be and a wonderful tribute to Terry Pratchett. I am in looove.

Cross stitch

I stitched and made a birthday card for my grandma, whose birthday was at the end of January, and I also stitched the pattern for a new baby card even though I don’t need it for a while. It’s only January and I already have friends with babies due in April, May and June so it seemed like a good idea to get ahead!

bird card

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

– I mentioned in my December recap that I was supposed to have a hysteroscopy that month but the doctor couldn’t manage to insert the camera into my uterus. So I went back in January, and this time had it done under general anaesthetic. I was so worried beforehand that something would happen and they wouldn’t be able to go through with it, but it all went fine. Since I was anaesthetised, I wasn’t allowed to go home by myself so Jan had to work from home that day then come and get me. And I also couldn’t work so I was off “sick” for the whole day, which gave me a chance to finish two whole books so yay for that! The scar tissue that was removed the first time had grown back over slightly and the doctor also opened up a few cysts (but said there wasn’t really much blood in them). Whether that will help is something we’ll find out, I guess.

– After the hysteroscopy, the doctor wanted to do a sonohysterogram (or saline ultrasound) to flush everything through and make sure it all looked good after the hysteroscopy, so I went back to the clinic for that a week later. It took a while to get the catheter in (until she switched to the smallest one) but after that the procedure was pretty quick. It wasn’t that painful at the time but my abdomen hurt a lot afterwards so I was glad of the Buscopan and painkiller they gave me to take home! I guess I’m glad I had it done though… anything that might help.

– I did my first deep clean of the year, which also meant cleaning the bath/shower/sinks for the first time since Christmas – and yes I’m aware I should do that more than once a month and the bath/shower are rinsed every time we use them, but it was the first time properly scrubbing them all in a month, okay. Anyway, that was a Sunday and on the Tuesday I saw dust on the bath and one sink. That’s two days later. No wonder I hate housework. It’s relentless and never-ending and all the hard work is undone before anyone even notices that you did it in the first place!

– What else? I went into work and my colleague who is on maternity leave came by with her baby son, who was born in October. We also ordered food for our lunch break so that was nice. Also, I was only in the office once in January because the first time I was supposed to go I ended up getting off the train after half an hour and coming back home. I felt really sick/shaky. By the time I got home I was fine, but I had already told work I was ill and had all my jobs re-planned so I just went to bed. I never actually vomited and I was perfectly fine every other day afterwards so who knows what that was all about. (And that was before both the hysteroscopy and sonohysterogram so no, definitely not pregnant. I think they might have noticed while they were poking around my uterus with a camera!)

– We went to the zero waste shop again at the start of the month. When we were there in June last year we bought washing powder and I still have enough left for probably 5 washes. We filled our other tin this time so I think I have enough packaging free washing powder to last a while. We also refilled the shower gel and got a lot of rice so give me all your rice-based dishes please!

I can’t think of anything else. This has been the most boring update ever. Sorry about that. I genuinely just haven’t done anything in January. Hopefully February will be better! Until then, check out the link up and find out what all the people with actual lives have been doing with them.

A Photo an Hour: 18 January 2020

Hello friends! As you can see by the fact that I’m posting this over two weeks after photo an hour day, reality has my firmly back in its grip. The time between finishing work and having to go to bed seems to go by in a flash, and honestly I just don’t want to go straight from working on the computer all day to typing up blog posts in the evening. I actually intended to post this on Sunday but the computer decided to be a pain. So I’m doing it now. Better late than never, right?

As always, Photo an Hour was hosted by Louisa and Jane.

10 a.m. It might be a new decade, but some things never change. Starting the day with tea as usual. And since Jana and Steph were hosting a SUYB readathon, also with a book.

11 a.m. Breakfast. Note the sultanas on the side… totally counts towards my fruit or veg with every meal goal!

12 noon. Getting dressed.

1 p.m. In town, where the sky can’t decide what it wants (it looks friendy-ish here, but right at the back you can see where the really threatening clouds start!). Also, construction.

2 p.m. Still in town. Next stop Aldi.

3 p.m. Home and eating a late lunch.

4 p.m. Back to my book… it *is* a readathon after all!

5 p.m. A break to boil the kettle.

6 p.m. Jan came home from choir practice so I got started with cooking tea.

7 p.m. So many pans all wanting my attention at once. Help!

8 p.m. Finally starting Good Omens. YESSSSS!

9 p.m. And back to reading.

That was the last photo I took, although I stayed up reading a while longer.

If you’re interested in taking part in a photo an hour, the next one will be on 15th February. Simply take a photo every hour and upload it to Twitter or Instagram… or save them all and use them to write a blog post later. Or do all three!

2020 goals

Hello! I’ve finally finished dwelling on the past (well, almost – Show Us Your Books is still to come, in which I will be recapping December’s reading) so now I can reveal the goals I want to work on for 2020. Like last year, I am breaking it down into different sections, namely reading goals, cleaning goals, health goals and social/life goals. So, let’s get on with it.

St Chrischona TV tower

Reading goals

Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:

  • 10 should be non-fiction – I failed at this last year but one year I am determined to achieve it!
  • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list – I managed 8 last year so I’m going to try and top that.
  • 36 should have been physically on my to-read shelf before the year started – I have way too many unread books that I really should be getting to before buying even more! 36 is just three a month, so that gives me plenty of scope for reading newly acquired books I’m excited about.
  • 6 should be in German – I have a few German books on my shelves that sound really good but I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading in German so I need to get back to that!
  • 12 should be rereads of books I already own and need to read again before deciding whether to keep them (the aim here being to hopefully make room on my shelves for more books).

Cleaning goals

Deep clean once per month. I did pretty well on it last month, so I’m sticking with it. This will include:

  • Cleaning the bathrooms/kitchen including mopping the floors
  • Changing the bedding
  • Cleaning the oven (although the new one has a “cleaning” function so that won’t be as hard as it used to be)
  • Hoovering and dusting the entire flat
  • Taking away recycling, etc. as needed

Some of those things I obviously do much more than once a month, but I want to check off that I’ve definitely done them at least once a month. Otherwise I can definitely go several months without ever taking out the mop…

Health goals

  • Eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable with every meal. Last year I tried to eat my 5 a day on at least 3 days a week, but it was too hard to track. Someone mentioned they eat fruit or vegetables with every meal (it might have been Hazel? If I’m wrong and it was you let me know!) and I thought it was a great idea so I’m going to try that this year.
  • No more than two cups of black tea per day. I did really well with this last year – I may have had more than two over Christmas in England, but other than that most days I actually only had one – so I shall continue with it.
  • Drink at least two pint glasses of water per day. I started well with this last year then started slacking around September so I’ll try again.
  • Go for a walk once a week. I did not get even close to enough exercise last year. This will be a start. I will allow walking to the supermarket and back to count if it’s the supermarket at the train station, but not if I walk to any of our local ones.

Social/life goals

  • Write at least two pen pal letters every month. I got way behind last year and didn’t write to some people at all. This year I will be better! I’ve already three in January so I’m winning 😉
  • Take some kind of in-person course. It doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something I have to physically go to and interact with actual people.

That’s all I’ve got. I think it’s enough for one year. I will let you know how I get on with them.

Do you have any goals for the year (or month or quarter)?

A decade in review

People have been recapping their decades on Instagram and Facebook, and some (like Hazel) in blog posts. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share a photo from each year of the last decade along with a brief outline of the main events of that year.

wire bridge
Steall Wire Bridge. Glen Nevis

2010: We started the decade at a house party in Padua, Italy where Jan’s sister was living at the time. Jan turned 30. We watched Germany play Argentina in Munich (the stadium was freezing!). Jan and I moved in together. I wrote my Master’s dissertation. We travelled around Britain with a friend – see photo above. I got my  Master’s in translation and passed my probation period at work. We spent Christmas in England and then went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.

Paris Louvre

2011: My grandma’s dog died – RIP Copper. We took a trip to Paris to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday. For the first time, we didn’t visit one of our families for Christmas, but spent it in our own home instead. I really wanted to see Austria again, so our New Year’s trip was to Salzburg.

De Valk windmill
De Valk windmill in Leiden – now a windmill museum

 

2012: Our family dog, Barney had to be put down. We visited friends who were living in Delft in the Netherlands – the photo above is from that trip. I randomly met K at a beer festival, and she became one of my best friends. My sister visited us in Karlsruhe with her then boyfriend and we took them to see the Formula 1 at Hockenheim. We had a holiday in Stockholm, which I loved. My godson was born and we got to meet him when he was just 10 days old. For New Year, we headed to Luxembourg to visit a friend.

Kilkenny
The River Nore and Kilkenny Castle

2013: Jan went to Turkey with work and ended up having his appendix removed there. We saw Eddie Izzard in Berlin. We saw a wheelchair rugby Champion’s League match in Karlsruhe. Road trip round Ireland with friends from our quiz team. I went to England for my mum’s 50th birthday and my godson’s christening – but Jan ended up going to hospital with stomach pains instead of getting on the plane! I turned 30, got drunk and cried because I was neither married nor a mother and felt like my relationship was going nowhere. We saw the Rocky Horror Show in its 40th anniversary year. I had my wisdom teeth removed. We returned to Feldkirch, Austria for the first time since I was living there (it hadn’t changed much). We headed to Madeira for the New Year, which I think was our best New Year’s trip yet (potentially tied with Edinburgh).

Wen Wu Temple
Wen Wi Temple, Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan

 

2014: My colleague went on maternity leave (and my other colleague was still on parental leave) so I spent the entire year as the only English translator at work. It was a very busy year! Jan and I celebrated 10 years of being in a relationship. My Grandpa went into hospital in February and I was luckily able to get time off work at short notice to visit him. He turned 80 in April and passed away at the beginning of May. We saw Pearl Jam in Vienna (I gave Jan the tickets for his birthday). My brother visited us in Karlsruhe and we took trips to Strasbourg, Basel (little knowing we would be living there a year later!), the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Jan had to go to Taiwan for work so I joined him there for a week after the conference. Jan, K and I went to Paris for a Welcome to Night Vale live show. We visited what is still my favourite Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern with friends. Jan was offered a job in Switzerland and we decided to start trying for a baby after the move. We decided on Zurich for the New Year so we could get a taster of our new country.

Samoa-Scotland
Rugby World Cup 2015 – Samoa vs Scotland

2015: We moved to Switzerland and I started telecommuting. I went to my cousin’s wedding, which was attended by the most family members I’d seen in once place for about 20 years! My friend from Luxembourg came to Basel to watch the Lion King musical with us.  We took a trip to England where we saw three Rugby World Cup matches. In October, once Jan was sure he would be staying at his new company, we started trying for a baby. For the first time ever, we didn’t go away for New Year, but instead invited friends to come and spend it with us in Basel.

Hobbiton

 

 

2016: My sister turned 30. We attended our first Fasnacht in Basel. Three old friends from university days came to visit. We spent two weeks in New Zealand! My mam and brother came to visit. The EU referendum happened (ugh). We attended my friend’s wedding in Luxembourg. Jan’s dad came to visit. In November, Jan’s mum turned 60. We were referred to a fertility specialist after 13 months of unsuccessful trying to get pregnant. My mam and brother visited for the second time in one year, this time with two of my mam’s friends. My sister and her fiancé (now husband) visited for a weekend to see the Christmas markets. We spent Christmas in England with my family and New Year in Glasgow with K.

Chienbäse4
Fire parade in Liestal

2017: Attended the Liestal fire parade for the first time. Spent Easter in Berlin with K. Took a trip to Champagne, where we drank Champagne (an item from my 35 before 35 list). Took a trip round England (and a tiny bit of Scotland) and got to meet Kezzie. I tried eating insects. My sister got married and I was a bridesmaid. For New Year, we went to Geneva with a friend.

Geneva light festival
Lights in Geneva

2018: Decided to switch fertility doctors. I got pregnant with twins via IUI. After months of being unsettled at work and being unsure what to do, Jan was offered a new job and decided to take it. My mam, brother and a friend of my mam’s visited. Just as we thought things were finally going well, I lost the babies. A week later, my maternal Grandma died. My other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted and then my dad diagnosed with cancer. We buried the boys in November, then Jan started his new job in Zurich and immediately had to go to California – so my mam and sister came to keep my company for a few days (although I was back at work by then). We spent a quiet Christmas and New Year in Basel.

Gibraltar5
Monkey Mountain, Gibraltar

2019: Found out our December IUI had failed and tried another one, which also failed. Celebrated 15 years together. Started IVF in the middle of a renovation (in retrospect, maybe not my best idea?). Went on holiday to Spain and Portugal. I celebrated a decade in the same job. Had four failed embryo transfers and one successful and one failed hysteroscopy. Spent Christmas in England with my family, then ended the decade in Basel with board games, cheese and friends – a much quieter night than the house party the decade had started with!

2020 fireworks

It has certainly been an eventful decade! We travelled a fair amount – not as much as some, but given the state of the environment, I think it was enough, and we saw some amazing places. There were plenty of good times, but also some very, very bad times. I have grown up a lot, and I feel like we’ve also grown as a couple, particularly since we moved to Switzerland in the middle of the decade. Before that we almost broke up on more than one occasion, but now I feel like we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. We’ve made it through the toughest of times and come out the other side, still together and still in love. No matter what happens next, I know I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me so far and there’s something to be said for that. I’m hoping this new decade will bring more growth, more adventures, and lots of happy memories.

2019: Hold on for One More Day

Last year I quoted a song in the title of my yearly recap post, so I thought I’d do it again, and having found myself singing the chorus of this Wilson Philips song more than once this year it seemed fitting.

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

That meant one more day of no proper toilet, one more day of dust, one more day of avoiding a kitchen and bathroomless home as much as possible. But also one more day of injections, one more day of progesterone pessaries, one day closer to finding out whether, this time, things had worked out. Usually there was actually more than one day still to go, but I kept telling myself to just give myself this injection, just get today’s appointment out of the way, and somehow it actually helped. But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

We pretty much started the year with the news that our second IUI had failed. Well, that’s not strictly true. My blood test was on the 5th so we had four days of thinking there was at least a possibility I could be pregnant. Alas, it was not to be. Other than that January was a fairly uneventful month. We took a couple of day trips within Switzerland but mostly I worked a lot and tried not to think about the fact that I should have been going on maternity leave at the end of the month.

Einsiedeln Abbey
Einsiedeln Abbey

My paternal grandmother turned 80 at the end of January (the 27th to be precise), so the weekend after her birthday we flew out to celebrate with her. We flew over after work on Thursday, 31st January, and after one delayed plane and running to catch our connection, we made it to Newcastle but our suitcase did not. It finally turned up the next day, but not until after we’d been out for a meal with my grandma. Luckily I’d packed spare underwear in my hand luggage and the outfit I wore on the plane didn’t look too awful ;-). And being forced to stay in all day gave me a chance to go through some of the stuff I still had at my dad’s. I got rid of a lot, but there are still many books from my childhood that I want to keep and therefore need to pick up eventually. I brought 7 books back with me from that trip but there are still many more waiting for me! The Saturday was spent with my mum and partly with my brother before he had to go to work. And then on Sunday, 3rd February, we flew back to Switzerland… it was the briefest of trips.

Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison statue in Morpeth

5th February was Jan’s and my anniversary – 15 years since we got together! We couldn’t celebrate that night since Jan was working late but we went out for a lovely meal at the weekend. On the last weekend of the month, we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Lugano. It was so nice to get away and relax for a weekend, just the two of us. Especially since I did a lot of overtime that month and, in between everything else, I had spent two weeks of that month giving myself injections for another IUI cycle. As you already know, it failed, which we found at at the beginning of March. With that went our last chance for a 2019 baby. We then made the decision that we wouldn’t continue with IUI, but would move on to IVF. A big step. March was also the month of my due date for the twins, would have been my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday (you may remember she passed away a week after I lost the boys) and it was Mother’s Day in the UK. Definitely a month of just surviving the best I could. It wasn’t all bad though. Jan had his birthday on the 1st, we saw How to Train Your Dragon at the cinema and Sarah Millican in Zurich. Jan’s dad came to stay for a couple of days, and Jan and I went to Meiringen where we failed to see the Aare Gorge since it was closed, but did get to go up the local mountain.

Hasliberg view
View from Hasliberg

April was slightly quieter at work, which was nice after being incredibly busy up until mid-March. We also had a new colleague start so after two years I was no longer the only full-time English translator! Obviously he needed some time to find his feet and couldn’t do every job right away, but it did take some of the pressure of me.

I started injections for IVF the week before Easter, which meant we couldn’t go away as we had originally planned since I had to be around for appointments. Instead, we spent an afternoon at the zoo in Zurich (after a morning appointment at the clinic). The nurse called after my blood test result came in to tell me I needed to start Orgalutran that day – the medication to stop my body from ovulating by itself, which you obviously don’t want in IVF – so I had to go and do that in the toilets. That one involves a proper syringe rather than just a pen so I preferred to do it in private. Later, when I sat on a bench to do my hormone injection (the one to make the eggs grow) it decided to bleed madly all over the place, which had never happened before in 3 rounds of IUI! Luckily Jan being a diabetic is used to needles so he was able to sort out the used needle, etc. while I stopped the flow of blood. And my response to the medication wasn’t affected – my retrieval was the Saturday after Easter and they managed to get 22 eggs (18 of which were mature). We celebrated that success with a trip to Gruyère. Most people would probably go and lie down after an egg retrieval but by that time the renovation was in full swing and we really didn’t want to go home to dustville. I took it pretty easy – no massive hikes – and it all ended up being fine.

Since they got so many eggs, I wasn’t allowed to do a fresh transfer because of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, so May ended up being a month off. Given that we were living on a literal building site at the time that was probably a good thing!

construction21

Then, on the 18th, we flew out to Spain to join my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. We had a lovely long weekend in Ronda, then after everyone else flew back to England Jan and and I continued to Cádiz (via Gibraltar) and then to Lisbon. It was definitely a much needed break… from everything. Construction and infertility treatments (the latter only for me. Other than providing his “sample” and shelling out the cash, Jan wasn’t involved much). By the time we returned, the flat was basically finished… although it would be September before the various workmen were really, truly out of our hair. We still couldn’t use the shower since the glass door for that didn’t arrive until August, but we were able to shower in the bath, had flushing toilets and a kitchen that worked, so good enough. I had another week off work, which I mainly spent cleaning dust from places that hadn’t even been part of the renovation and filling the cupboards in the new kitchen.

Ronda
Ronda, Spain

June meant a long weekend thanks to Whit Monday. Since I didn’t have any appointments for a change we decided to go away for a couple of days. Jan booked a hotel in Interlaken and on the first day we went to Jungfraujoch then the next day we returned to the Aare Gorge and this time had better luck!

The rest of the month was mainly spent unpacking all the kitchen and bathroom stuff that had been living in boxes since the renovation began. Although everything wasn’t completely finished we were at least able to get back to some kind of normality! We also visited the two zero waste supermarkets Basel has to offer in preparation for plastic-free July. I had my first IVF embryo transfer in June as well. It all went smoothly, but as you already know, implantation didn’t happen.

As I’ve just mentioned, in July I attempted to go plastic free. If you’re interested in how I did you can read my posts here, here and here. Jan participated in the Basel Tattoo again (as a member of the choir) and I had a ticket for one of the evenings. I didn’t enjoy it as much as in previous years but it was still really good.

Basel Tattoo lions

I don’t really remember what else I did. Worked a lot. Had my second failed embryo transfer. And on the 31st we went to see the fireworks at the Rhine Falls in advance of Swiss national day.

Rheinfall fireworks

August started with a trip to Eguisheim in France. The 1st is Switzerland’s national holiday and I had taken the day off for it (reminder: I work in Germany so I don’t get it as a public holiday) and we wanted to do something. Eguisheim is a gorgeous village and we had a lovely day out.

Eguisheim1

I then had to work for 2 days before it was the weekend. We had arranged to meet up with a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg, then two weeks later we took a trip to Karlsruhe, first to meet up with friends there and then to meet up with more friends the next day to go hiking. Jan’s mum and her partner also came to Basel to spend a day with us in August. So much socialising! I’m not used to it. LOL.

Freiburg
Freiburg from above

We took a month off from IVF in August so I could have a hysteroscopy… basically a camera inserted in the uterus. In the process, the doctor found some scar tissue, which she cut open and she also drained a cyst. Despite the painkiller I took beforehand it hurt and I was glad when it was over!

August is my birthday month and in 2019 I turned 36. It wasn’t the birthday I had been expecting a year before (when I was still pregnant) but I finished work early to read and then Jan took me for a lovely meal in the evening so it ended up being okay.

September went by way too fast and I didn’t really do much to be honest. Jan and I took a trip to Brugg, which turned out to be disappointing, and we saw John Cleese live with a friend. I also celebrated 10 years in my job… although I didn’t actually “celebrate” at all, just acknowledged it and moved on.

Brugg2
The “Storchenturm” in Brugg

October brought the one year anniversary of losing the boys and another failed embryo transfer. I spent the actual day of the loss showing my great aunt and great uncle around Basel, which was a great distraction (Jan was away with one of his choirs that week). At the weekend Jan and I went up to the memorial where their ashes are buried and then walked into town and had a hot chocolate – which is exactly what we did the day their ashes were placed there. Having a ritual feels like a good thing.

In the middle of the month, we took a trip to the Verenaschlucht (Verena Gorge) in canton Solothurn, where we had a nice walk. I think that was our only trip in October… for most of the month I was incredibly busy at work and didn’t want to do much more than sleep and read on the weekends. Also Jan had a million projects going on and was busy with rehearsals, concerts and meetings practically all the time he wasn’t at work. I did go to watch two of the concerts and went out to eat with the performers after each one though.

Verenaschlucht
Verenaschlucht

I was off work for the last week of October but it rained heavily almost the entire time so it ended up being a washout. We also met with the head doctor of the fertility clinic after our fourth failed embryo transfer and decided I would have another hysteroscopy in December.

November was the first time since May that I didn’t have any infertility related things going on. No appointments. No medication. No procedures. It was kind of relaxing, but also surreal. I had the first week of the month off and was actually able to spend it not thinking about doctors at all! It was also the start of my most sociable period of the year…

We went to Karlsruhe again on the first weekend of the month to watch Jan’s former choir perform and then to see a performance that a friend from student residence days was part of. While we were there we of course met up with various friends, including being invited for breakfast with one friend, his wife and their baby. It continued to pour down for most of the rest of my time off work, but luckily cleared up in time for my cousin and her boyfriend’s arrival on the 9th. They stayed with us for 4 days (one of which I was working) and we fit in a tour of Basel including a visit to the autumn fair and a trip up a mountain followed by a boat ride to Lucerne. Then they went to Colmar by themselves for a day while I worked. I had the absolute best time with them. Having them to stay was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

Rigi Kulm view
The view from Rigi Kulm

The following weekend, a friend (and former colleague) came to stay with us for a night on her way home to Luxembourg from Zurich. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2016 so it was nice to catch up in person!

I also had my best reading month quite possibly of my entire life in November thanks to a middle grade readathon called Believathon. I had a great time reading nothing but children’s books for an entire month – it was honestly exactly the escape I needed from a not particularly great year.

And finally we come to December… which I’ve literally just recapped in a post so I’ll try not to say too much in this section. I had my hysteroscopy appointment at the beginning of the month, but unfortunately the doctor couldn’t manage to insert the camera properly so she had to stop (I still ended up with cramps later in the day though!). We went to the Christmas market in Baden-Baden, where we met up with the same friends we saw in Freiburg in August, who then also came to stay with us for New Year. I also met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one night only. I showed her and her family around Basel, and of course we had a Glühwein at Basel’s Christmas market.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt
Baden-Baden Christmas market

I saw Jan perform twice with different choirs/groups and went out to eat with the performers afterwards both times, then we went to a birthday party the day before we flew to England for Christmas with my family. We had five days there, which we used to spend time with as many people as possible, but still managed to find some time to chill in between. We also got some lovely gifts and ate a lot of food. And right before Christmas my dad was declared cancer free after spending 2019 being treated for prostate cancer. We returned to Basel on 28th December and I spent the last few days of the year reading It and preparing for visitors while Jan had to work. Then, for the first time since we got together, we actually ended a year in the same place we began it… right here in Basel with friends, games and copious amounts of cheese.

While, unlike 2018, I can’t point to any one particular event that made 2019 terrible I have to say I think last year was worse than the year before. Although the end of 2018 was obviously awful (to recap: we lost our boys, my maternal grandma died exactly a week later, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted and my dad was diagnosed with cancer), for a time before that things were looking up I was the happiest I had ever been. In many ways, the constant, ongoing stress of 2019 has felt so much worse than happiness followed by complete devastation. I feel like I spent most of last year very much in my own bubble, licking my wounds (which is also why I’ve been a horrible friend for the most part and have utterly failed to stay in touch with anyone or keep up with my friends’ lives). But over 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!)

This has been longer than I intended, so if you’ve actually made it this far then thank you! I hope this new year is everything you want it to be.