Friday letters

I took part in Friday letters last Saturday and I’ve been meaning to write up my blog post on it all week, but I’ve just been far too busy. So for now you’ll have to make do with Friday letters. Maybe I’ll get round to photo and hour over the weekend… although we have a visitor coming next weekend and I’m in Germany from Thursday afternoon to Friday evening, so this weekend will be my only opportunity to get the flat into a shape that I’m not ashamed of letting people see. Hmm. Anyway, here are some letters for you.

Friday letters

Dear customers. While I am glad not to be sitting around doing nothing, I would appreciate it if you could distribute your languages a little more evenly so everything doesn’t end up on my desk…

Dear books. Despite last week’s message to myself, you appear to have multiplied again. I wonder how that happened…?

Dear flat. How do you actually even get into such a state anyway? I mean, I get that I’m lazy but the speed at which you get messed up seems excessive!

Dear Christmas markets. Soo, you’re here again. Yay! Unfortunately I don’t going to get a chance to visit any of you this weekend with all the cleaning I have to do… Oh well, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow anyway.

Dear weekend. Even though I am probably going to be spend half of you cleaning, I am so glad you’re here! Now if only you were longer than a measly two days…

Right, that’s all from me. I’m waiting for a phone call then I have to go to the post box, buy some bread and start making tea. All in an evening’s work…

Have a great weekend, everyone!



Laufenburg Cross-Border Christmas Market

This is the final post for my 2016 Take 12 Trips challenge, then I will be all caught up. So, let’s get on with it shall we?

Laufenburg in Aargau, Switzerland and Laufenburg in Baden, Germany are two towns that used to be one… until Napolean decided to place the Swiss/German border right in the middle of the Rhine, leaving the two parts of the town in two different countries. A bridge connects the two, and every year the towns join together to hold a cross-border Christmas market, with stalls in each of the towns and also across the bridge. I loved the idea of a Christmas market in two countries at once and as soon as I read about it I knew I wanted to go. The market is only on for one weekend in December, but luckily we had time that weekend – and Laufenburg is only about a 20-minute train ride away.

On arriving in the Swiss Laufenburg, we immediately saw the ruins of a castle on the hill, so that was our first stop. You can climb the tower that is all that remains of the castle and get a nice view of both Laufenburgs. We could actually see the market from up there as well, but I couldn’t get a photo because there were trees in the way.

Back down from the tower, we took a wander through town in the general direction of the river, working on the assumption that we would have to come across the bridge (and thus the Christmas market) somewhere down there. The town turned out to be really pretty, so of course I took photos.

After a while, we reached the Rathaus (town hall), where we could already see signs of the Christmas market.

The Christmas market stands did look very cool crossing the bridge! Also, the two photos below were taken from different countries.

Before buying anything from the Christmas market, we had a wander through, across the bridge and into Germany, to see what was on offer. The German side turned out to be very pretty too! (Unlike in Rheinfelden, where Switzerland got the pretty old town while Germany has nothing worth looking at.)

Apologies for the photo overload… and I haven’t even included all of them!

There was a Rathaus on the German side as well, and the Christmas market ended on the square in front of it. From town hall to town hall, via the bridge ­čÖé

By this time it was getting a bit chilly, so it was time for some Gl├╝hwein. We chose a stand that was selling a cherry version. Then we moved on to another stand for a bacon waffle… I had never seen anyone put bacon bits in waffle batter before but it was very tasty!

Having eaten , we wandered our way back through the German side and back onto the bridge, where we picked up a Christmas gift for Jan’s mum and grabbed another Gl├╝hwein.

Back on the Swiss side, we found another bit of market round the corner from the bridge, bought some biscuits and a marshmallow snowman from a stand run by a school (the snowman later went in some hot chocolate) and even spied a Santa on a motorbike before deciding it was time to head back to catch our train.

I was expecting Laufenburg market to be tiny, just going across the bridge with maybe one or two stands on either side, but it turned out to have a lot to offer. There are various different food and drink stands along with ones selling hand-made items (there were some lovely bird feeders!), jams and condiments, candles and more. They certainly go to a lot of effort for something that’s only on for three days! The Christmas market and both of the towns are well worth a visit, and we’ve already decided that it would make a nice day trip with any visitors we happen to have in the summer. If you’re ever in the area and fancy doing something in two countries in one afternoon I would definitely recommend Laufenburg!

This was my December trip for Take 12 Trips 2016, and meant I had completed the challenge for the second time!


Photo an hour: 17 December 2016

Saturday was the final photo an hour of 2016, so obviously I had to join in. Some of you might have seen that I posted some of the photos on Twitter when I had a wifi connection, but for most of the time I was out and about with no Internet, so the majority of these are totally new. Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. A different start for a change – checking what’s in my advent calendar (don’t worry, the kettle was already on and tea was had shortly after!)

11:30 a.m. Time for a shower.

12:30 p.m. On the tram heading to the train station.

1:30 p.m. Just arrived in Laufenburg (clock as evidence that I took my photo on time ­čśë )

2:30 p.m. Cherry mulled wine in the German town of Laufenburg

3:30 p.m. Back on the Swiss side of the river to catch a train home – the train you can see in the photo is the one we took.

4:30 p.m. After a quick stop in town to pick something up, we were waiting to catch another tram.

5:30 p.m. Home, taking advantage of the brief free time to make some more Christmas cards

6:30 p.m. Another card made up and ready to post.

7:30 p.m. Feuerzangenbowle at Basel Christmas market.

8:30 p.m. Meeting a friend for dinner.

9:30 p.m. In my 2016 recap, I said I was meeting friends for fondue. Since the person who suggested fondue was ill and the rest of us had eaten it recently, I went for something equally Swiss: raclette. Yes, that is pretty much a plate of cheese!

10:30 p.m. Heading home – the window display in the toy museum looked rather impressive!

11:30 p.m. We were in for the night, so that meant time for pyjamas and fluffy socks. I was in bed by midnight so this was the final photo of the day.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope it was lovely, whatever it was.

Friday letters (it’s all about Christmas)

Hello! How is everyone doing? Christmas plans coming along okay? I feel like now December has hit it’s all I can think about! Will I get my cards made and set in time? What will I get that final difficult person for Christmas? Should I bake biscuits this weekend? Question upon question…

Anyway, some letters are in order, I think.

Friday letters



Dear sunshine. How lovely to see you! Do you think you could maybe stick around for the weekend as well?

Dear Christmas gifts. I finally only have one more of you to get, then everyone I need to buy for is sorted. Next step: wrapping.

Dear Christmas markets. Thank you for making the dark, cold days so much more bearable! (Let’s not talk about what we’re going to do when it’s still cold and grey in January yet, okay?)

Dear Lebkuchen. Now it’s December, I think it’s about time I started eating you. Tis the season (to stuff our faces) after all ­čśë

Dear 2017. I see you lurking! You’d better be planning good things for me ­čśë

Happy weekend, dear readers! I hope you all have a good one.

35 Before 35: Progress report 5

The last time I reported on where I’m at with my 35 before 35 list was my birthday last year! You can read that post here if you’re interested. With precisely two months until my next birthday (33! Yikes!), I thought it was about time I updated you all on my progress. Not that I’ve managed to cross much off entirely, but I’ve at least made some progress on the reading front. Here’s what I’ve done since 13th August 2015:

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I had to go all the way back to the progress report before last to see where I was up to before! I had previously read six non-fiction books, now I’m up to 12. I had actually read Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes, Victorian London by Liza Picard and Dear Fatty by Dawn French last time I updated, but apparently forgot to include them in my progress report. Since then I’ve read Everything You Wanted to Know About Rugby But Were Afraid to Ask by Iain Macintosh (which I actually bought for Jan) and Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid.


Number 15: Read 30 books in German

I had read 20 last time, now I’m up to 21. I read Apfelrosenzeit by Anneke Mohn. It was okay but not brilliant.

Number 18: Bake 10 different types of biscuits

Again, I had to go back to the time before last. I didn’t say how many types I’d baked them though, but research tells me it was 4. I’ve since baked Spiced Oat Cookies and Maple Pecan Nut Cookies, which makes six. Four more to go!

Number 20: Attend a World Cup rugby match

My dad actually managed to get us tickets for three rugby matches during the world cup in England, so I’ve more than completed this one!

RWC 2015

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadnÔÇÖt before starting this challenge

I’ve been trying sooo hard to read Big Read books lately! Last time I was on 13, now I’m up to 27! Not going to list them all here. I’m currently reading The Magus for Megan’s reading challenge and I’m part-way through The Unbearable Lightness of Being as well (started it a while ago), so I’ll hopefully be adding more to the list soon. Still over 100 to go ­čś«

Number 24. Go to 5 different Christmas markets (other than Karlsruhe and Durlach)

So, I originally excluded Karlsruhe and Durlach since I lived there and the idea was to go further afield. Based on the same principle, I excluded Basel last year. But I still managed to complete this item: I had been to two already so Colmar, Rheinfelden and Bern last year makes five.

Number 31. Watch 35 films IÔÇÖve never seen before.

I’d managed 18 last time (which was only 2 more than the previous check in). Thanks to a looong flight to New Zealand and back, I’ve actually managed a few more since last year and I’m now up to 27. Woo hoo!

That’s everything this time. I’m not sure I’ll actually managed to complete the list before I turn 35 (can’t see me actually affording 3 OU courses in the next 2 years!), but that’s okay. I already feel like the list has helped me make the most of my time. Next progress report… when I remember! ­čśë

Bern and its Christmas markets

Back in December, we decided to finally visit our new capital city, Bern – and also add another Christmas market to my list. We took advantage of another RailAway offer (I love that site!), which gave us money off the train ticket – I don’t remember how much – plus a voucher each for one Gl├╝hwein or tea from the Christmas market on Waisenplatz and a 5 CHF voucher for money off anything but Gl├╝hwein from one of the stands at the Christmas markets on M├╝nsterplatz. There was nothing we wanted to buy at M├╝nsterplatz, so we used our vouchers towards some food ­čśë

On arriving in Bern, we first walked to Bundesplatz to see the Bundeshaus, or Federal Palace – the place Switzerland is governed from.

In some of the photos above, you might have noticed cantonal coats of arms going around the top. Half cantons have to share a space. Here are the ones for Basel-Stadt (the black one) and Basel-Landschaft (ours! The red one):

Basel staffs for Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land

Here’s a photo of the front of the Bundeshaus. The market is a normal one, not a Christmas one.


Confoederatio Helvetica is Latin for the Swiss Federation and is where the country code CH for Switzerland comes from. So now you know ­čśë

According to a local legend, Berchtold V, Duke of Z├Ąhringen, who founded Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt. Said animal turned out to be a bear. Obviously this isn’t true, but the bear has been the heraldic animal of Bern since the 1220s and appears on the coat of arms. There are various bears all around the city, and even some real live ones in the B├Ąrengraben (bear pit) at the eastern edge of the old town. We didn’t get to see any live ones though – the weather may have been incredibly mild for December, but bears’ body clocks aren’t affected by the temperature and they were all hibernating.

The balancing bear is my favourite ­čÖé

After a bit more wandering around, we eventually came to Waisenplatz and the first of the Christmas markets. Of course, we claimed our free Gl├╝hwein – who cares that it was far too warm for hot drinks? Free is free!

After drinking our Gl├╝hwein and looking at the Christmas market for a bit, we continued our wander through Bern. Our walk took us past the Rathaus (town hall), down to the river and the B├Ąrengraben and finally to the M├╝nster (cathedral)

Next to the M├╝nster was the next Christmas market. We had a look round all the stalls before deciding it was about time for food. I had a hamburger with garlic sauce and Jan had a sausage. I didn’t really take any photos of the market, so the next few are mainly of the Cathedral and things on the square. We did also go inside, but no photos were allowed in there – even without the flash!

After eating, we had our Gl├╝hwein cups refilled – this time with white Gl├╝hwein -drank up, then continued walking round Bern. We were trying to find somewhere to eat that evening but everywhere was fully booked! Eventually we decided to head back to Basel and eat there, but not before passing by the M├╝nsterplatz Christmas market again, where the lights above the archways were now on!

Bern was my 5th Christmas market that I’m willing to count towards the list (my “home” market doesn’t count!), and marked the achievement of that goal for my 35 before 35!

I’m linking this post up with Monday Escapes. Click the button to see where everyone else is virtually escaping to this week!

Packing my Suitcase

Rheinfelden, Switzerland and Rheinfelden Christmas Market, Germany

I feel like I need to get all my Christmassy posts out of the way before we get any further into January, so here’s the first.

Rheinfelden used to be one town with the River Rhine flowing through it, but then in 1802 when Napoleon Bonepart fixed the border between Switzerland and Germany on the Rhine. Now there are two towns with the same name, one in Switzerland and one in Germany. Switzerland has the pretty, old-town side, while Germany’s Reinfelden isn’t all that nice but was where a Christmas market was being held for one weekend only… and I still needed Christmas markets for my 35 before 35!

We took the train to the Swiss Rheinfelden and started by walking into the old town.

As you can see, it wasn’t the prettiest of days. We were lucky enough to avoid the rain but the heavens were threatening to open at any minute!

Prettiness photographed, it was time to cross the bridge to Germany.


The Christmas market was even tinier than I expected and had very few interesting stands, but I did manage to buy some pumpkin and ginger pasta, and we bought some kind of alcoholic punch from a Peruvian stand.

After that I ate a wild boar sausage, Jan ate some cheese bread thing and we headed back across the river to Switzerland, where we caught a train back to Basel, stopping at the Christmas market there for a Gl├╝hwein and to buy a bird feeder for our balcony.

Rheinfelden was the fourth Christmas market to be crossed off my list, and Basel doesn’t count, so that left me with one more Christmas market before I could consider that item complete… stay tuned to see which one I went to.