December 2018

One day I might go back to my recent doings/currently style posts, but for now I think I’ll stick with a rambling review of how I spent the previous month. Maybe I’ll add in some “recent doings” posts at random in mid-month? Anyway, for now let’s talk about what I did in December. Advance warning: this will probably be long.

Linking up with Kristen, of course, to talk about what’s new with me.

whats new with you

I will mainly be talking about the weekends since that’s when the interesting stuff mostly happens. Plus Christmas, obvs.

Jan came back from his three-week orientation in the US on 1st December. He arrived in the late afternoon, so before that I spent the day doing some necessary shopping and making Christmas cards for Post Pals children. I totally forgot to mention in my November recap that we finally got a shelving unit for the home office right before Jan left (it actually wasn’t supposed to arrive for another week so score on that point!). We put it up before he went away – by which I mean Jan mostly put it up with a little help from me (in fairness I was working at the time!) – so during that first December weekend he sorted out some of his stuff that needed to go on it, which involved unpacking two boxes that had been in the spare room this whole time. Yes, I am aware that we moved here 3 and a half years ago. *Shame* There are still two boxes in that room.  I need to work out what’s in them…

Xmas card

The second week in December Jan had concerts. By which I mean he had a rehearsal in Zurich on Thursday evening, a concert in Bern on Friday, a concert in Basel on Saturday and a concert in Zurich on Sunday. There were three choirs involved, one each from Basel, Bern and Zurich, hence the performances in different cities. We also had visitors that weekend, a friend from Karlsruhe and her boyfriend, so I hung out with them while Jan did choir stuff. And of course we went to see Jan perform on Saturday evening.

The following weekend was concerts again… with a different choir this time and only in Basel – one on Saturday, one on Sunday. I went to see the Saturday one. You can see what else I did that day in my Photo an Hour post, if you’re interested. That weekend, another blogger was in town… Jordan from Wayfaring with Wagner (check out her blog… she takes the best photos. Honestly, I defy you not to want to visit places after seeing her pictures of them). We met up for breakfast and then took her on a whirlwind tour of Basel, including a trip to the Christmas market. The place I had originally suggested for breakfast was full so we ended up going to Markthalle, which ended up being an excellent choice. I will definitely be having breakfast there again! (Hoping the Z’Morgeland brunch buffet is a regular thing!).

Bloggers in Basel

The weekend after that was the one before Christmas. Jan was invited to a birthday party in Geneva on the Friday night. For those who aren’t familiar with the geography of Switzerland, Geneva is at the other end of the country. I mean, it’s a small country, but that’s still a three-hour journey. I had the day off because I had appointments at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and working in between only to have to rush off again seemed silly. Jan was at work though, then he went  straight to Geneva so I didn’t see him that day. I finally posted my final parcel of Christmas presents to England (which of course meant those family members did not have anything to open on Christmas Day. Oh well… extended Christmas all round!). On the Saturday, I continued my pre-Christmas clean then when Jan arrived home shortly after 2 p.m. we went to buy a Christmas tree, brought it home and then decorated it. The living room looks so pretty with the tree lights on and I’m always sad when it has to be taken down. On Sunday, the 23rd, Jan slept late while I continued cleaning. I finally got round to cleaning the oven… a task that I’m sure would be much easier if I did it more often! Then in the late afternoon we went to visit my dad’s cousin, who lives in Germany, about a 40 minute train ride from Basel. His parents (my great aunt and great uncle) were visiting as well as his wife’s parents, and they also have three kids so they had a full house! It was an enjoyable evening and we had baked potatoes for tea, which is always certain to make me happy 😉

Christmas tree 2018

On Christmas Eve, I spent the morning pottering around, drinking tea, scrolling through social media, reading a bit. At 1 p.m., just as I was putting my coat on to go for a walk, Jan got up (to be fair to him, he had been up at 6 a.m. to go jogging then gone back to bed). He claimed he had stayed in bed for that long because he had a headache, then said I should have woken him and he could have gone for a walk with me… but when I pointed out later that if I had woken him he would have just said he had a headache and not got up he agreed that he probably would have. Anyway… I went for my walk then stopped by a supermarket for some last minute bits… milk, clementines, that sort of thing. In the afternoon we watched Santa Claus: the movie, which I hadn’t seen since about 1992! Dinner that night was Bratwurst and potato gratin. Then we opened our gift from Jan’s dad so Jan could thank him when he called. Jan phoned his parents and we watched Only Connect (a quiz show, for those who don’t know). Then it was off to bed.

Bruderholz Basel

On Christmas morning we were both up by 9:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right! After a cuppa followed by breakfast (bread rolls and jam), it was time to get down to the serious business of opening presents. Between us we got 3 films and 4 series for Christmas so we won’t run out of things to watch any time soon! After presents came showers, then we both headed out for a walk. We stopped by the cemetery to say happy Christmas to the boys then went and visited the cows at the farm. Then we headed back home to start making Christmas dinner, which Jan ended up doing most of because my dad called part way through. Beef, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon) and honey roasted carrots and parsnips were consumed. And gravy, of course. After dinner, we watched some TV, tried out a game that Jan had received for Christmas, spoke to my grandma on the phone and finally ate some Christmas pudding that my dad’s cousin had given me.

baby calf

On Boxing Day (26th December for those not in the know ;-)) we decided to get a car and go for a drive. We went to Murten near Fribourg, a small town with a very well-preserved town wall and beautiful old streets. After a walk around the town and along the parts of the wall you can access, we headed to a pub for a dinner of delicious Flammkuchen. Back home, we drank hot chocolate and watched The Big Bang Theory.

Jan was back at work on the 27th, and although my office remained closed until after the New Year, it was still back to reality for me. First a trip to the post office to pick up a parcel I had missed, then shopping, cleaning and laundry. I also made chicken broth for tea and it was delicious. While Jan was at work again on the 28th, I cleaned the kitchen and went into town before taking a train to Zurich so he could show me his new place of work. The next day was Saturday and we took a trip to IKEA where Jan bought containers for storing all his cables and I attempted to buy a mini set of drawers but failed because they had sold out. I did, however, manage to get a frame which we later used to frame a jigsaw puzzle (now hanging up in the spare room) and of course we consumed Swedish meatballs while we were there. You can’t go to IKEA and not eat the meatballs! On the Sunday, the 30th, I don’t think we did anything much. Watched Big Bang Theory and had cottage pie for tea… that’s about it.

And finally we come to New Year’s Eve. We had invited a friend over to eat raclette so while Jan worked (from home) I went out and bought all the necessary ingredients. Our friend had been in Finland for the holidays and was returning from Hamburg, where he had spent the night. First his train was delayed leaving Hamburg and then there was an accident between Offenburg and Freiburg so it was just after 11pm by the time he arrived at our place! It would have been later if he’d gone home first, but we told him to just come here with all his stuff and stay the night at our place. This meant we literally ate our way into the New Year, which is just fine with me!

We had a nice, quiet festive period, which was exactly what we wanted, and have already managed one day trip in 2019. And today it’s back to work and back to reality for me. Only two days until the weekend though… I’m sure I can cope with that 😉

And what’s new with you? I hope you had a good December. Come join the link up and see what everyone else got up to over the holidays.

Advertisements

Sunshine blogger award… again

I know I did this fairly recently, but I was nominated a second time by Confessions of an Irish Procrastinator WEEKS ago and I feel bad that I haven’t answered her questions yet.

sunshine blogger

The rules, in case you forgot already:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for a blog post and links back to their blog.
Thank you! I am truly honoured that you think my blog is worthy of this award.

2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
See below

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
Hmm

4. Display the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Here are my answers:

  1. What’s your favourite animal and why?
    I like lots of animals. I’m going to be really unimaginative and say a dog though. They’re just so loving and seem to truly like their owners no matter what. Nobody is ever as happy to see you as a dog!
  2. If you had to be a character in any book who would you be?
    Oooh, that’s a good question… but also a difficult one. I think I would like to be Susan Sto Helit (aka Susan Death) from the Discworld books. She is, quite simply, awesome! Plus I would get to meet Death.
  3. What habit would you like to kick?
    Leaving things lying around. I need to make sure everything has a place and then put things in that place, even if it means taking a detour into another room.
  4. What would you like to achieve before the year is out?
    The main thing I want to achieve isn’t for the blog, so I’ll give another boring answer. I’d like to lose 2-3 kg.
  5. If you could live in any known fictional land (for example Wonderland or Narnia) where would you live?
    Aah, I want to say Discworld but that seems like cheating after picking a Discworld character for question one! Okay, Narnia. After the White Witch is defeated, obviously.
  6. What uplifting thought or quote you do you live your life by?
    Try to live by would be more accurate! “Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too!”. I don’t know if that’s actually a quote or who said it, but I bought a postcard with it on and stuck it inside my front door so every time I leave the flat I see it and try to act on it.
  7. Share one thing that makes you really happy.
    This is going to sound really weird, but the River Rhine in Basel. Even on a cold, grey, rainy, miserable day, walking across the Rhine never fails to make me feel happy and… hopeful, I guess? No matter what’s happening, at that moment I feel like eventually everything will turn out okay in the end. I don’t remember a place in Karlsruhe ever having that effect and it makes me really glad we decided to move here. See, I told you it was weird!

    12_Rhine
    The Rhine by night
  8. Share something you’re proud of.
    My Master’s dissertation. I wrote it about the translation of children’s literature and got 70% for it. (I actually got a higher mark for my Bachelor’s dissertation but I feel like a Master’s dissertation is more of an achievement so…)
  9. Do you have any unusual party tricks?
    Hmm… no. Not that I can think of.
  10. Who’s your favourite band?
    Finally an easy one. Green Day
  11. If you could fly or be invisible which would you choose?
    I think fly… assuming I could fly really fast over long distances it would be a useful skill for getting to England in a hurry if necessary.

I’m actually going to cheat and not nominate anybody because I’ve already done it once recently and can’t think of anyone else, but I will give you 11 questions and if anyone feels like answering them please feel free to say I nominated you for the award!

  1. What is your most treasured possession and why?
  2. What would be your dream job?
  3. What was the last film you watched?
  4. What was your favourite subject in school?
  5. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
  6. Have you ever been told you resemble someone famous? Who was it?
  7. Do you snore?
  8. If you could learn to transform into an animal (but only one) which animal would you choose?
  9. What’s your favourite cartoon?
  10. What was your favourite film as a child?
  11. If there was a film about your life, what would it be called?

Feel free to pick one or more questions and answer them in the comments if you don’t want to do the whole thing 🙂

The Daydreamer Award

Briony from Fear of the Reaper nominated me for this award ages ago, but then  got caught up in moving stuff and never actually managed to write my post. I know.. excuses, right? Well, I’m getting round to it now, okay?

the-daydreamer-awardApparently, this is an award for blogs that are inspiring, creative or funny. Wow, I had no idea my blog was those things!

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Complete the challenge they set you.
3. Select a blog or blogs that you want to give the award to.
4. Tell them about it and set them a challenge.
(Please include the rules in your post).

1. Thanks for the nomination, Briony. It’s nice to be acknowledged! Now all my readers should go and read her blog because it never fails to make me laugh!

2. I was given the challenge to describe my perfect rainy day.

Obviously I’m going to assume that this day is taking place on a weekend, because no day that I have to spend at work could be perfect. I love my job, but there are limits!

I would start my perfect rainy day by waking up late. Then I would lie in bed for a while listening to the rain on the windows while I stayed under the warm covers with a cup of tea (brought to me by my boyfriend, of course… there would be no getting up to switch on the kettle on my perfect day!). Once I’d finished my tea, I would finally drag myself out of bed and head of to the kitchen, where Jan and I would work together to make pancakes for breakfast (or actually brunch. On my perfect day the first meal would not happen at breakfast time!). We would eat them with hot raspberries, Nutella, orange juice and of course more tea! After breakfast, the dishes would all go into the dishwasher (we have one in the new flat) while I took myself off for a nice long bath (we have one of those in the new flat as well). I would take whichever book I was reading into the bathroom with me. And of course I would not drop it into the water (something my mother is fond of doing!).

A rainbow over Karlsruhe
A rainbow over Karlsruhe

Once I was all clean, I would get dressed in my most comfortable lounging around the house clothes and head over to the sofa with some cross stitch and – yes – more tea. I would stay there for a few hours, stitching and watching the rain, then, on my perfect day, I’m assuming the rain would let up just a little bit, the sun would come out somewhere, and a rainbow would appear. I would then abandon my cross stitch and go for a walk, preferably to somewhere with ducks for me to say hello to. The rain would hold off until I got back from my walk, at which point it would start bucketing down again. Meanwhile, nice and dry in the house, Jan and I would make dinner together and settle down to eat it while watching a film. Again, the dishwasher would do the hard work (woohoo!) Jan and I would then head off to bed, at the same time for once. And what we would do there is none of your business 😉

3. Phew. Moving on… here are the bloggers I would like to nominate:

Kerri from Crumbs in the Bed

Holly from Full of Beans and Sausages

Becster from her blog of the same name

Laura from Live, Love Laugh with Laura Jade

4. The challenge I would like to set my nominees is to describe your dream dinner party, including the guests (dead or alive), the decorations, any background music you might have…. use your imagination. But, most importantly, don’t forget to tell me about the food! (Can you tell I like to eat? 😉 )

Over to you guys. Have fun!

A “smashing” idea

(I’m sure that joke in the title has been used a million times, but I never claimed to be original. Plus, I like it… so it’s staying :-P)

I had never heard of a smash book until Ari from What Ari Said started posting photos of hers on her blog. I’m not particularly creative, but seeing all the different things she was doing with her smash books inspired me and made me want one of my own. I was even contemplating buying one from Amazon (where they are pretty expensive), but then Ari offered to send me one that she had going spare. I know… how nice is that? The blogging community is just the best 🙂 My parcel was sitting waiting for me when I arrived home last night and I couldn’t wait to get started!

A smash book is basically a scrapbook, but with ready made pages so all you have to do is open it up and starting sticking things in (or “smashing” them in, as they say). It comes with a back stick that’s a pen at one end and glue at the other, you you don’t even need to look for glue. Just grab the things that you’re always wanted to stick in a scrapbook and get started. There are all different kinds of smash books, with different themes and things. The one Ari sent me is “365 style”, which basically starts at the beginning of the year with winter themed pages then goes through the seasons, ending up with New Year. The theme seemed to lend itself perfectly to some kind of record of the year, so I decided to make it about my journey to eat well and think positively this year. I’m calling it “2014: My Year of Happiness and Health”. Here are some of the pages from the book… mostly blank because I haven’t really done anything with it yet.

Ari was also kind enough to send me some accessories – washi tape, a stamp with various sayings, little sticky notes and a little book where you can write down quotes and things you’ve overheard. The kindness of bloggers never fails to impress me 🙂

I’ve always wanted to be a scrapbooker, but I’m not creative enough for that kind of thing.. I even tried to make a srapbook of my year in Austria, but quickly gave up because I ran out of ideas and what I had managed to do looked crap. I’m hoping a pre-made book will work out better for me.. and once it’s done (if I get that far!) I’ll have a nice collection of positivity that will make me smile every time I look at it. I’ll let you know how it goes…

The Liebster Award and some random ramblings

Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles recently gave me the Liebster Award (thank you Charlotte!) and I thought I would pass it on before I completely forget about it.liebsterblogawardA while ago, I was given a different Liebster Award, which involved a lot more work. This one is pretty simple – display the award on your blog and choose five people to pass it on to. I can do that!

The word Liebster is German, by the way, and means something like “dearest”. How nice!
Here are my nominations:

PinkleaOne of the first blogs I started reading when I signed up for WordPress oh-so-many years ago. She’s a French immersion teacher from Canada and often has funny stories to tell about the kids, as well as life in general.

Expat Eye on LatviaI’m sure you can guess what her blog is about from the name. However, what the name doesn’t tell you is that she’s very, very funny!

From Casinos to CastlesDeanna is an American expat in Germany. She writes about the ups and downs of life (and parenthood) in a foreign land.

Is That You Darling?Jane describes herself as a “UK lifestyle blogger” On is That You Darling, you you will find a bit of everything: Film reviews, recipes and photos from day trips to London, to name just a few.

The Pink RachaelWe share so many of the same opinions, it almost scares me! Rachael recently moved from being an expat in Spain to living back in England, and took a break from blogging during the big move, but she’s back now with more tales to tell.

Sara in Le Petit VillageAn American in France. Her posts range from amusing to insightful and her photos of France are gorgeous!

Now some random ramblings on life in general.

  1. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to being able to exercise again! When I went back to work after the dreaded wisdom teeth operation, even walking fast caused a jolt of pain to go through the holes with every step I took. Things have improved since then, thank goodness, but I still don’t feel up to say star jumps.
  2. Speaking of wisdom teeth, I can now chew normally again on one side of my mouth. The left-hand side is still a bit sensitive, but the operation was also more complicated on that side so I’m not too surprised.
  3. Because dealing with the after effects of having my wisdom teeth out clearly isn’t enough, I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Thanks a lot, universe!
  4. It’s raining again. I sincerely hope it’s just a one off and not the start of another three weeks of sogginess! There’s been more than enough rain in Germany this year if you ask me.
  5. Poppadoms
    YUM!! (Photo credit: 10b travelling)

    My godson took is first step the other day, at just over one year and one week old. Clever boy! (Obviously I was not there to see this – I read it on Facebook).

  6. Last night, somebody found my blog by searching for craving poppadoms. Now I want poppadoms! And a decent curry to go with them. I’m so easily influenced… (I also still want Wotsits after yesterday’s search terms post. Always the things I can’t get here. *Sigh*)

And that’s all I have to say for now. Stay tuned for this week’s Look Up, Look Down entry…

Travel theme: Bridges

Toy train bridge

This post was inspired by Elaine at I used to be indecisive, or rather by her take on this week’s travel theme at Where’s my backpack?
The theme is bridges, which are one of my favourite things to photograph, so when I saw Elaine’s post I knew I had to join in!

I’m not sure why I like photographing bridges so much. Perhaps it’s because of what they represent. Without bridges it would be so much more difficult to get anywhere – and I do so hate being stuck in one place for any length of time! (I blame my army upbringing.) Of course, without bridges there would still be boats and planes – and in some instances even the possibility to swim – but those methods aren’t always practical – or would you enjoy swimming across a stream when there’s snow on the ground? 😉

Or maybe I just made all that up so I would sound intellectual and the real reason I have so many photos of bridges is simply because I like the way they look? Many of them are just so beautiful! Others are majestic. With some, I wonder how on Earth anybody ever managed to put them together (there’s a reason I’m a translator and not an engineer!). Anyway – enough rambling from me! Time to get on to the bridges…

With so many photos in my collection, it was really difficult to decide which bridges to include in this post, but to start with I thought I would give you my most recent photograph of a bridge, taken in Luxembourg City on 2 January this year:

Luxembourg bridge

This is the Adolphe Bridge, one of the bridges across the gorge that splits Luxembourg City in two. It was built between 1900 and 1903 and is one of those bridges that makes me wonder just how the builders managed.

The next photo is not specifically of a bridge, but it does show some of Stockholm’s many bridges. The city of Stockholm is made up entirely of different islands (14 if I remember correctly), so there are basically bridges everywhere you look.

Stockholm

This photo was taken from the tower of Stockholm City Hall, and as you can see the view is well worth the climb!

Moving on… my next photo shows the St. Nikolaus Bridge in Calw, Germany. Being my adopted home country, Germany may be featuring a few times in this post…

St. Nikolaus BridgeThe tiny little building you can see on the bridge is the St. Nikolaus Chapel and the metal statue just in front of it is Hermann Hesse, who was born in Calw. Here’s a better picture of the statue:

Hermann Hesse

Looking at the sky, you wouldn’t believe these photos were taken a few moments apart. I promise you, they were!

Staying in Germany, but moving a little closer to home, this pretty wooden bridge is in Ettlingen – the next town over from Karlsruhe.

Ettlingen

The river it crosses is the Alb.

Switching countries again, here are two Dutch bridges. One in Leiden, complete with windmill:

Leiden

It opens to let ships through.
And one in Delft:

Delft

OK, that last one isn’t exactly a bridge in the same way as the others I’ve posted (it’s part of Delft’s Eastern Gate), but it does bridge a canal and it’s rather cool, don’t you think?

Austria next, I think. And a night shot.

Salzburg bridge

The above photo of a bridge over the River Salzach, in Salzburg, was taken in December 2011 – which is why the bridge has Christmas lights on it. In the background you can see the fortress, all lit up.

OK, this post is getting rather long now so I won’t add too many more. Here’s a bridge in Venice, Italy:

Venice bridge

Returning to Germany with one from Tübingen:

Tübingen bridge

Not the best photo, but I’m including it so I can also say Tübingen is among the prettiest places in Germany and if you ever find yourself in the area you shoud go!

Another one from Austria – this time from Feldkirch, which I want in purely because I used to live there:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The yellow building is the Landeskonservatorium für Vorarlberg – in other words the music college. The building was originally a Jesiuit school, the Stella Matutina, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame was once a pupil there!

And now I shall finish off with some photos of the North East of England, because it’s the closest thing to a “where I’m from” I have.
This one is the Lion Bridge in Alnwick, Northumberland – so-named because of the stone lion that stands on it:

Lion Bridge, Alnwick

Here’s a bridge in Morpeth, the town where I spent most of my childhood holidays (my parents are both from there) and later, after moving up North myself, a few drunken teenage nights:

Morpeth bridge

And finally, here are some of the bridges that cross the River Tyne in Newcastle, including the most famous one – the Tyne Bridge itself.

Bridges of Newcastle

Wow! Sorry this post has ended up being so long – I was having too much fun to stop! If you would like to see even more bridges – or join in yourself – you need to go here.

All of these photos were taken by me or – in the case of the one from Leiden – my boyfriend. Please do not steal them.

And they sailed away for a year and a day…

In the course of my wanderings through the blogosphere I’ve come across some great people. Amazing, funny, crazy and daring people. People who write brilliant blogs, make me laugh and make me think. People who inspire me and make me believe that anything is possible.

One of these people is the hilariously funny Home Office Mum, whose blog you can read here.
Now, Home Office Mum is the mother of two small and rather boisterous boys. She also runs her very own business. She combines the running of her very own business with taking care of the aforementioned small and boisterous boys. You’d think with all that going on life would be challenging enough – I mean, I can barely look after myself never mind two small boys and a business. But no. Home Office Mum has decided to take on a new challenge. Something ambitious. Something awe-inspiring.  Something exciting. Something, quite possibly, insane. She’s only gone and signed up to take part in the Clipper Round the World Race. So come September she’ll be setting sail from England to Brazil in a boat that’s probably neither pea-green nor beautiful.

The thing is, in order to complete this ocean adventure she’s going to need your help. First of all you need to head on over to her new blog, moretolifethanlaundry.com and give her as much encouragement as you possibly can. That shouldn’t be too difficult – after all, it is a fairly incredibly thing she’s doing. While you’re over there it would be fabulously wonderful if you could hit the donate button on the right hand side and give her a hand with the raising of the funds. ‘Cause taking part in a challenge like this doesn’t come cheap. She’s not asking for much – just 2 tiny little English pounds for each mile she sails, and one of those pounds shall be donated to charity so you’ll even be doing your bit to help sick and disabled children. Sounds marvellous, doesn’t it? So what are you still doing here? Get on over to More to Life Than Laundry and help a blogger out…