December 2019 recap

Hello friends. It is the first Thursday of the month, of the year… of the decade. Wow! I have some 2020 goals to tell you about, but before I do that I want to draw a line under last year – starting with telling you what I did in December.

I’m linking up with the wonderful Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

Days out and socialising

We don’t do much travelling in December, so I’m lumping a few things in together. On the 7th we went to Baden-Baden to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend and to go to the Christmas market. None of us had been to the Christmas market there before and it turns out it’s a nice one. And it’s always nice to catch up with friends. The same friends then came to us to celebrate New Year. They arrived in the afternoon of the 31st and we played board games together before indulging in some delicious raclette. We then went into town to watch the fireworks, which start at 12:30 a.m. here, so technically that part belongs in January’s recap.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt

In between those things, I met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one day only. I showed her, her husband and their sons around Basel a bit, which of course also included a visit to the Christmas market. It was nice to put a face/voice to the person behind the letter.

Basel Christmas market

On 20th December, my last day of work for the year, I finished slightly early I went to Zurich to meet Jan after work. I wanted to see the lights on the Landesmuseum (which Lyndsay had posted a photo of on Instagram). We decided we didn’t want to join the very long queue though, so instead we walked down the Christmas market in front of the opera. By the time we got there it was raining heavily, but I found myself some food and we huddled under a crowded shelter while I ate it. Jan wasn’t hungry and neither of us felt like drinking Glühwein in a downpour so we gave up and took a tram back to the train station. So much for celebrating no more work – I might as well have stayed home and cleaned!

The next day was a friend’s birthday (Jan’s friend really, from one of his choirs). She celebrated at Klara, which is a cool place with a bar and various different food stands. That day was photo an hour, but I haven’t written my post for that yet so stay tuned for that one!

Apart from that (and going to England), the only travelling I did was on the days I had to go into the office, which doesn’t really count. One of those occasions was for my work Christmas meal though, so that was nice at least. I stayed the night in a hotel and worked in the office the next day.

England and Christmas

After all the crap that went on this year, I decided I wanted to spend Christmas in England for once… especially since this could be the last time Jan can actually travel there easily! Since we had the birthday party on the 21st, we flew on the 22nd. As always, there were a lot of people to meet. On the 23rd, we went to Morpeth in the morning, where we met up with my mum for breakfast. I also saw the Tree of Light. For a small fee (the money goes to charity) you can write a message to hang on the tree. My grandma hung three messages on it – one for my grandpa, one for my step-mum, and one for our boys.

Morpeth Tree of Light

We then decided to drive around for a bit before it was time to meet my friend and her sons to exchange gifts. We had a walk along Blyth beach before driving up to Tynemouth for a brief glimpse of the priory. Then it was time to meet my friend and exchange Christmas gifts. Her eldest son is my godson so I needed to remind him what I look like 😉 It had been nearly two and a half years since I last saw them. In the evening we headed to Newcastle to meet up with another friend and his girlfriend. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him, but I know I had never met his girlfriend and they’ve been together two years! Crazy how time goes by. We met for food at a place called Nudo, which was delicious. I had the most amazing fried dumplings.

Tynemouth castle and priory
Tynemouth Castle and Priory

 

Christmas Eve was actually a relatively free day. We got to sleep in for a bit, then we had to pick up a package from Jan’s sister that had arrived the day before. We then joined my dad for a brief drink – he was meeting up with my former brother-in-law, who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, give or take, came home for dinner and just chilled in the evening. I think maybe we watched some documentary.

Christmas day started with presents, of course. My dad gave me a book I had asked for, Jan got my board games and my friend gave me some beautiful Christmas tree decorations with the boys’ names carved on them. They will definitely be going on our tree the next time we have one! Christmas dinner was the usual feast – turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, both mashed and roast potatoes, bread pudding and various vegetables. Afterwards my dad, his partner and my brother went to visit her family while we drove to my mum’s to spend some time with her and my brother. More gifts were exchanged, of course. One of mine was Lush bath bombs, so now half the clothes that were in the suitcase smell like Lush! The evening was spent back at my dad’s playing Cards Against Humanity.

Boxing Day, or Saint Stephen’s Day if you prefer, was more of the same… presents and way too much food. We went over to my grandma’s in the morning for gift-giving followed by lunch. We were joined there by my sister and brother-in-law as well as a friend of my grandma’s.

Boxing day lunch
“Light lunch” grandma style – there was also soup and a giant chocolate and pear trifle

Later we met my mum and brother in the pub before walking up to their place for more drinks and some snacks. It was a lovely chilled afternoon/evening. My dad picked us up, along with my sister and brother-in-law (and their dog) at around 10 p.m. as we were all staying at his place that night. I gave my brother-in-law an Only Connect (TV quiz show) book for Christmas and we had a go at some of the puzzles before heading to bed. We actually did reasonably well!

On the 27th, we had arranged to meet with yet another friend and her husband. We went for lunch at a pub called The Snowy Owl… you can see Christmas consisted mainly of eating! They got married last year (we went to the wedding), bought a house this year and she is also pregnant so obviously they’ve had an exciting time and had a lot to talk about. The pub was having an issue with the gas so the food took a long time to arrive, but once it did it was pretty good. Back at my dad’s, I went through some of my boxes of books that were still there (I was looking for a locked-room mystery for Erin’s challenge and ended up also taking a few more), then we packed the suitcases and walked up to a local pub with my uncle, sister, brother-in-law and the dog. My brother joined us there as well as some friends of the family. It was another nice evening catching up with people. My dad came later and, since he can’t really drink at the moment, acted as designated driver for various people. Once we got home, we basically went straight to bed since we needed to be at the airport by 10 a.m. the next day. And that was Christmas. Not too much rushing around, but still lots of catching with family and friends and no time to dwell on the fact that this should have been our twins’ first Christmas.

Craft stuff/cross stitch

Obviously all my December crafting involved Christmas. I cross stitched many designs and then made them up into cards. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

Obviously the majority of December was festivities, but there are a couple of other things to mention as well.

– At the beginning of the month, I had an appointment for another hysteroscopy. Unfortunately the doctor ended up not being able to carry it out – apparently my cervix was in a weird position, then once she figured that out there was too much resistance and she didn’t want to force it and end up doing more harm than good. So after 4 or 5 attempts she gave up and I have to try again this cycle. That means at least another month until we can do another embryo transfer, but hopefully once the hysteroscopy and associated cyst removal is done our chances of the transfer actually working will be increased.

– My dad was declared cancer free the week before Christmas, and his hip pain is also slowly improving. Hopefully that marks the beginning of the end of my family’s run of bad luck! That will most likely be the last time I mention what’s happening with my family on here, since as I said last month I find it unfair to write about other people on my blog.

That’s it, I think. I will post a round-up of what I read this month on Show Us Your Books day, but I can tell you now that it isn’t as many books as usual – partly because I was busy, but also because I was mostly reading It and that book is long!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by the people you love the most, and have entered the new decade refreshed and ready to face whatever life has to throw at you (preferably more good things than bad, and only minor bad things!). Don’t forget to check out the link up, say hi to Kristen and see what’s new with everyone else.

So here it is, Merry Christmas

Colmar Christmas18

I would like to wish all my readers a happy and stress-free Christmas with your loved ones (be that your actual family of the family you’ve chosen for yourself). I hope those who have had a tough year can find some measure of peace, those who have difficult people in their lives can avoid them and their comments, and we all all come out the other side of the Christmas period refreshed and ready to face a new year… and new decade! Catch you on the other side – my next post will be linking up with Jana and Steph for a special extra Show Us Your Books., so look out for that

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.

Happy Christmas!

The tree is up, the presents are underneath and I’m almost finished with the cleaning. So all that remains is to wish all my lovely readers a very happy and stress-free Christmas. Spend time with your loved ones, eat delicious food and don’t worry about how your Christmas compares with anyone else’s. The most important thing is that you have a nice time, whatever it is you’re doing. I know a lot of you haven’t had the best year, so I hope you can forget your troubles, at least for a few hours, and have a nice time. Catch you on the other side!

Christmas tree 2018

Freeeedom!

Bird

Well, this has been the weirdest (attempt at a) working day ever. I went to log on early this morning only to get an error message. At 8 o’clock, when I thought somebody might be in the office, I called to find out it was a general problem. All our work is done remotely now – even those who are actually in the office log on to a server – and there was a problem with said server. So I spent most of the day waiting around to see whether the problem would be fixed, punctuated by having my project management colleagues send the things that needed doing to my private email address so I could download them, do the work, and then email them back for delivery to the customers (or in one case to be uploaded to our own website – sometimes I do internal translations as well). Luckily I didn’t have too much left to do today, but it means I only did around 3 hours of actual work between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The rest of the time I was just sitting around. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything just in case things started working again and I could actually log on and work properly. Fun times. However, I took tomorrow off because I have several appointments and working in between them would just be silly, and from Monday we’re closed so I am now freeeeeee until the New Year. I mean, I still have all the cleaning to do before Monday because I like the flat to be properly cleaned and tidied for a change before Christmas Eve so that I can spend Christmas itself doing absolutely nothing (well, almost nothing… obviously we still have to eat so I will be cooking and dealing with the dishes from that, but I don’t want to be hoovering or cleaning ovens during that time). But from work, I am free! That makes it sound like I hate work… to clarify, I do not. I’m just exhausted. I have honestly never been more in need of the Christmas break than I am this year.

And I have no idea what the point in this post was so I’m going to stop here and go actually do some of that cleaning I keep going on about!

Recent doings #24 – December 2017

Hi everyone! I’m not really sure what I can write in this December recap post that wasn’t already covered in my yearly review or another post, but I hate to miss out on the What’s New With You link up again (I missed Novembers because I was packing and then on a plane to England), so here we go…

8fdf5-whats2bnew2bwith2byou

Reading. I will post all my December reads next week when Show Us Your Books rolls around, but I feel the need to mention (again) that I finished Magician in December. Not only was it over 800 pages long, but it also ended up being the 100th book I finished in 2017. Woo!

Watching. I finally watched Being John Malkovich and it was just so weird! Other than that a bunch of Christmas films… Miracle on 34th Street (the 90s version), A Muppet Christmas Carol, the end of Home Alone 2 and The Snowman and the Snowdog. Also Christmas specials of Pointless and A Question of Sport. I think I watched more TV in December than the entire rest of the year…

Making. Christmas cards… for Post Pals and for my family. I think I made over 100 cards this year! Here are some that I’m fairly sure you haven’t seen:

Eating. All the things I really shouldn’t have… what else does one do in December? Ferrero Rocher, Gingerbread men, biscuits, crisps… it was bad. But oh so good. Then we had lamb for Christmas dinner.

Drinking. Prosecco. And that was before Christmas even arrived 😉 The day of my sister’s wedding we literally drank fizz for breakfast.

Celebrating. My sister’s wedding. And obviously Christmas 😉

Visiting. My dad’s cousin on Boxing Day (26 December for those that aren’t familiar with it). He lives in Germany, but a relatively short train journey away from us. He has three kids and his parents (my great aunt and uncle) were also visiting so it was a full house! We had a fun afternoon.

Hosting. A friend from uni days! She came to stay for the first week in December because she wanted to see some Christmas markets. We obliged by taking her to the ones in Freiburg (Germany) and Basel.

Travelling. To England for the wedding, obviously. Then to Geneva for New Year.

wedding balloon

Buying. Christmas presents, of course. Although to be fair I had bought almost all of mine before December rolled around since I needed to take them to England when I flew over for the wedding. But I did end up buying one last-minute gift the day we flew and then still had to buy the very last one in Newcastle! For myself, I think I only bought 4 books in December, which is actually pretty good going. I won’t tell you how many I normally buy…

I can’t think of anything else. It was a busy month, but somehow all the busy seems to have been covered in just a few categories. I was also working until the 22nd though, so between that and all the Christmas cards there wasn’t really time for much else before Christmas. I’m hoping January will be slightly less insane.

I am linking up with Kristen and Gretch as always. Please go and say hi!

Recent doings #13

Hello everyone! I hope this first week of 2017 has been treating you well thus far? Today is only my third day back at work and already I have a long weekend since tomorrow is Epiphany, and a public holiday in the part of Germany where my work is based. Not a bad first week back 😉

Since today is the first Thursday of the month, it’s also time to link up with Kristin and Gretch again for What’s new With You? So here is what I got up to in December:

Reading. Apart from my challenge reading, which I updated you on in my last post, I also read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry in December. I gave both three star ratings on Goodreads.

Watching. We finally finished the first season of Mr Robot and it was amazing. But now I’m annoyed because we have to wait for the second season to come out on DVD since it’s an Amazon Prime TV series and there is no Amazon in Switzerland. Grr! We also watched Paddington with my sister and her fiancé because it came on TV and none of us had seen it. I thought it was cute but not a patch on the original books.

Eating. Christmas dinner, of course. What else would I eat at Christmas time? 😉 My dad did turkey with all the trimmings and we had more turkey plus gammon and three different types of cake at my grandma’s for Christmas tea. We also ate fish and chips and a couple of pub meals while we were in England. And before we left for the holidays I may have eaten an entire box of chocolate Lebkuchen to myself. Basically, December was about eating all the things. All of them.

Making. Christmas cards. I literally posted the last three the day before we left for Christmas, so who knows when they actually arrived! Here are a couple that I don’t think I’ve previously shown you:

Hosting. My sister and her fiancé came to stay for a weekend in December, so we did the whole Basel tour again… complete with a trip to a bar that’s on the 31st floor of a hotel building.

Buying. Many more books than I should have plus a top that was on sale for 7 francs.

Visiting. The Christmas market in Laufenburg (post to come… soon I hope). And, for another kind of visiting, So many friends and relations in England! We met up with two different friends for lunch on consecutive days, spent Christmas morning with my mum and brother, went to see my godson’s family for a couple of hours on boxing day to exchange gifts, popped round to see my maternal grandmother (who is bedridden and has dementia, but seemed happy enough) and had a look at my sister’s new house. So many people, so much rushing around, but it was lovely to see everyone.

Travelling. To England for Christmas (and we managed to land in Newcastle before storm Barbara came calling, which was nice) and then to Scotland, specifically to Arran for one night and Glasgow for Hogmanay.

Seeing. The Jungle Book as performed by the always amazing Oddsocks.

What's New With You

That’s all I can think of right now. What did you do in December?