October 2020 recap

Hello friends! Kristen isn’t hosting her link up this month because she has too much going on, but I wanted to write a recap anyway because I like having them to look back on.

So, October…

Switzerland decided to allow large events with up to 1000 people – including allowing crowds at football matches – from 1st October even though coronavirus cases had been steadily creeping up throughout September. So we started October with an average of around 300 new cases per day and ended it with around 7000 cases per day… a fact which surprised absolutely nobody except, apparently, the Swiss Government. It took until 28th October for them to finally hold a press conference and introduce stricter measures (although individual cantons had introduced their own stricter measures before that). Those “stricter measures” ended up being masks to be worn in all public buildings (shops, museums, etc.), night clubs to close, bars and restaurants only allowed 4 people per table and have to close at 11 p.m., a maximum of 10 people allowed to get together, events back down to a maximum of 50 people, stricter rules for contact sport and choirs, and universities had to switch to virtual classes. That’s it. While the rest of Europe went into some kind of lockdown or “lockdown light”, Switzerland’s shops remain open, many employers still insist on everyone coming into the office (even if they could theoretically work from home) and plenty of people are continuing to go to bars and restaurants as normal. Yay Switzerland!

Four days before the new measures were announced, one of Jan’s choirs had a concert. In the days leading up to it a few cantons introduced measures banning choirs from singing, but Basel wasn’t one of them. So the concert went ahead – with a live stream as an option for those who didn’t want to risk actually going to the event. Obviously I had to physically be there and show my support though. I had a ticket for row 9, which was the first row – all the seats from rows 1-8 had been removed, so there was a huge distance between the audience and the choir. Before entering the building everyone was asked to keep their distance from other people and wear a mask, and the entire audience had to wear masks throughout the performance as well – although I was disappointed that they hadn’t separated the seats so different groups were still sitting right next to each other. Luckily there was an empty seat on one side of me, so I made sure to face in that direction throughout the entire concert (I faced the front/towards the choir, of course, but at the same time looked towards my right if you get what I mean?). A friend of ours had a ticket but chose to stay home and watch the live stream.

Apart from the supermarket, the fertility clinic and my weekly walks, the day of the concert was the only time I properly left the house and went among people in October. Knowing the new measures were coming in 4 days, I went into town on the day of the concert to try and pick up a few Christmas presents while it was still possible. I also stocked up on craft supplies for all the Christmas cards I have to make.

Speaking of crafting, I finished making all my Halloween cards to send to post Pals families and got them posted out, then I started on Christmas crafts. Post Pals is having an auction soon to raise money so I made some things for that (cards and felt Christmas tree ornaments), made a start on my own Christmas cards and also stitched a birthday card for my little cousin in New Zealand.

A friend of Jan’s who he knows from choirs has been staying with her boyfriend throughout the pandemic and she was struggling because she couldn’t concentrate on her studies. He lives in a shared flat and someone was always around making noise, etc., so Jan offered for her to come to our place to work (don’t worry – he did ask me first whether it would be okay!). Since we moved our dining table into the spare room back in March to make an office for Jan, we had to fetch the other table in from the balcony – it’s technically also a dining table, but since we don’t have balcony furniture it usually lives out there. It looks exactly the way you would expect from something that’s been out in the weather, so I decided to buy a tablecloth for it. When I asked Jan what he thought his response was “It’s a tablecloth” but whatever, I like it! (And it was reduced to about a third of the usual price, so bonus.) It’s kind of big but I’m hoping to one day get a nicer and possibly slightly larger table that it will fit better.

So now that table/room is in use a few days a week. It’s all very coronavirus restriction-compliant – she has a mask on when she comes in and we stand apart from each other (no hugging!), she gets the dining room area all to herself (Jan and I each have separate “offices” to work in), she brings her own water bottle and if she has a cup of tea or coffee she places the cup in the dishwasher herself. And of course we have plenty of soap and disinfectant for hand cleaning. It’s probably safer than some actual workplaces!

At the end of the month I went on my usual autumn walk along a nearby stream, as I have every year since we moved here. Despite the lovely sunshine I saw precisely one person, sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. The photos for that will be up soon once I get around to sorting and resizing them.

Apart from that I read – although not as much as usual – and we watched Richard Osman’s House of Games regularly. I also persuaded Jan to watch Heathers with me on Halloween. He didn’t seem impressed, but oh well. I still like it. It’s better than some of the crap he’s made me watch (*cough* Indiana Jones *cough*).

And that’s all I want to tell you today. The days are getting shorter and shorter and cases of coronavirus are higher than ever (over 10,000 on two days last week!) so I will most likely be leaving the house even less in November, but we’ll see what I manage to report next month. Until then stay safe and keep smiling!

A Photo an Hour:15 December 2018

On Saturday, I took part in the final photo an hour of the year, hosted by Jane and Louisa. I had decided it was going to be the day that I finally got the last of my Christmas cards sorted, but I also wanted to clean the flat and had a ticket for Jan’s concert in the evening. So much to pack in to one day! Here’s how I got on…

9 a.m. We had no milk so my first act was to jump in the shower before heading to the shop.

10 a.m. Showered and milk purchased, now I can have a cuppa. Yay!

11 a.m. A busy week of work with lots of overtime plus one day in the office in Germany meant my kitchen was severely neglected and I had dishes to wash…

12 noon. Finally getting round to stitching and making the final few Christmas cards.

1 p.m. Cross stitch made into a card. Hoorah!

2 p.m. Another cuppa while writing out some of the cards I’d made. The ones in the background were waiting for Jan to sign them.

3 p.m. Jan signed the cards and I started putting them in envelopes.

4 p.m. Another card made!

5 p.m. Jan left for his final rehearsal and I got the hoover out. Also, how pretty are my slippers?

6 p.m. Cleaning the bathrooms, but I need to head out soon!

7 p.m. On the way to watch Jan’s concert. Terrible photo taken through the window of a tram.

I missed 8 p.m. as the concert was in progress.

9 p.m. Concert over, still in the church waiting for Jan to grab his stuff. Martinskirche, if you’re interested.

10 p.m. We went for food. By this stage it had all been eaten and I was finishing my wine before we got the bill.

11 p.m. Home and having a hot sage and honey drink to warm up… it was freezing on Saturday!

I was tucked up in bed by quarter to 12 so no more photos needed to be taken and symmetry in my blog post is preserved πŸ˜‰

I did, in fact, manage to get almost all my cards made, written and addressed. Only my dad’s remained to be sorted. And I did quite a bit of the housework I had planned to get sorted, although putting away the washing ended up being a task for Sunday evening. (And I still haven’t cleaned the oven). All in all a productive day.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope you all had a lovely festive weekend.

Recent doings #16

Another month has passed (it’s already April!), and that means it’s time to link up with Kristin and Gretch to talk about what I’ve been up to recently.

whats-new

Here are my March doings:

Reading. So many books. So, so many. First, I finished the bonus round for Erin’s challenge. Plus I read The Day of the Triffids intending for it to be my book for “a genre you rarely read” (science fiction), except then I had to change it because I didn’t have 5 previously chosen books on my list. And I read the next three books in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, two of them on the same day. That’s how much I love them! In total I read 16 books in March and started another.

Watching. Some film called “Planet 51” that Jan found while flicking through channels. It was cute. Also Come Dine With Me (guilty pleasure!) and I recently discovered the Father Brown TV series so I’ve been watching that occasionally, when I manage to catch it.

Learning. About Wales, but no Welsh yet because I haven’t got to the language portion of my OU course. Also to loom knit – my latest hobby. I have made a few practice hats that wouldn’t even fit a newborn and also one sock for myself. It is recognisably a sock and even fits me, but I haven’t made the second one yet because I ran out of wool – or I suppose I should say yarn now like people who know what they’re talking about.

Celebrating. Jan’s birthday, on the 1st of the month. Not that we celebrated much since he doesn’t care about his birthday (weird, right?) and went to work, but he got gifts and I baked cupcakes so there’s that.

Attending. Fasnacht stuff, including the fire parade in Liestal and the 4 a.m. parade (“Morgestraich”) in Basel.

Trump lantern
Morgestraich. Trump featured on quite a few lanterns…

Eating. Do you know what… you can just look here if you haven’t already. That’s basically our diet, with a few other dishes thrown in (three bean chilli, various soup/broth type things, curry, cottage pie…).

Drinking. I’ve kind of given up on the caffeine avoidance and been drinking a lot of ordinary black tea… I will get better at that again, but lately I’ve been so tired that a proper cuppa in the afternoon has been the only thing that kept me going long enough to actually make dinner!

Buying. Uhh… what haven’t I been buying more like? Books, wool (yarn), crafting supplies, a turtle necklace (too cute to resist!), a Mother’s Day gift for my mam. I have been very bad and I should feel bad, but I really don’t. Must curb my spending this month though…

Seeing. Or hearing? I’m never sure what to say when it comes to concerts! Anyway, we finally saw The King’s Singers, which I gave Jan tickets for at Christmas but the concert was only this month. Plus Jan performed with his choir so of course I went to one of those performances (but not all 4 because seeing the same concert four times would have been slightly excessive!)

Hosting. One friend who came to stay for the weekend just to see us and then four people from Jan’s former choir who came to watch him perform with his current choir.

And I think that’s all. At least nothing else comes to mind. It should give you a pretty good idea of how I spent my time in March anyway.

What have you been doing recently?

A Photo an Hour: 29 October 2016

Yesterday was photo an hour day again, hosted as usual by JaneJane and Louisa. Here’s what I got up to on the last Saturday of October:

10 a.m. Tea in a cup that talks about coffee. Such a rebel!

11 a.m. Trying to find the right cross stitch thread. What colour is “straw” anyway?

12 noon. Getting dressed.. my tights have pumpkins on them! ❀

1 p.m. Jan got up, so I put the kettle on again.

2 p.m. Back stitch time! How cute is that tree?

3 p.m. I was ready but Jan still needed to iron his shirt. If you look closely you can see me reflected in the iron.

4 p.m. Finally at the autumn fair!

5 p.m. Food at the fair. It’s little pasta “horns” with mince , covered in raclette cheese (it tasted nicer than it looks!)

6 p.m. Jan went off for his pre-concert rehearsal and I did a bit of shopping.

7 p.m. After dropping the shopping off at home, I was out again almost immediately. By 7 p.m. I was at the church, where the choir was still rehearsing.

No 8 p.m. photo since I didn’t want to whip my camera out in the middle of the concert, sooo…

9 p.m. Leaving the church after the concert. Sorry about the awful quality of the photo!

10 p.m. A friend invited us round for a beer after the concert since he lives close to the church (yes, I have a friend in Basel!!)

11 p.m. More beer, but now in a bar

12 midnight. Waiting for a tram home.

Back home, I drank some water, brushed my teeth and went to bed, all before the next hour came around. I couldn’t have taken another photo anyway… symmetry must be preserved πŸ˜‰

How was your Saturday?

 

Pearl Jam in Vienna

I don’t normally write reviews of concerts I go to because I’m even worse at that then I am at reviewing books! But a few people have expressed interest so here goes…

I actually bought the tickets for Jan as an anniversary present. I like Pearl Jam well enough, but he’s the one that owns several of their albums! So when I received an email saying they were coming to Berlin, I had to try and get tickets. Of course, the day they went on sale ended up being a day where I was travelling back from somewhere, and by the time I got online the venue had sold out. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought to check whether they were playing anywhere else in Germany. They weren’t, but Vienna was on the list and, amazingly, there were still tickets available. I chose the best seats that I could still get (standing tickets were obviously long gone!), but as I’m sure you can imagine, they weren’t exactly the best seats… (Although I have to admit I was actually glad we were sitting! It was so hot in there that I just know if I’d been in the crush at the front of the stage I would have fainted before the end of the first song and ruined the whole night!).

The sound wasn’t brilliant where we were, but halfway through the gig Eddie Vedder paused to say that when they were doing the sound check, he seriously thought the sound guy was screwed! Apparantly, the Wiener Stadthalle had the second worst sound of any venue the band has played ever. So maybe it wasn’t much better down in front? Although he did say that the sound was much better now the hall was full.

Despite the less than amazing sound, it was a really good concert. The music went on for about 3 hours with barely a pause and every member of the band played excellently. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so hot (partly as a result of sunburn!) and we’d had better seats, but neither of things are Pearl Jam’s fault! Based purely on the band’s performance, it was an amazing gig and well worth taking the trip to Vienna for!

Looking forward…

Routine has got me firmly back in its clutches and I am not liking it at all! Any benefits I may have gained from the long weekend and trip to KonstanzΒ  were instantly erased by several small jobs due the next day plus a badly written larger job that required me to do an hour of overtime from home in the evening. OK, an hour doesn’t sound like much… but when you already get up at 6 a.m. (wellll, alright… ten past), the last thing you want to do on arriving home is get back to work… But instead of dwelling on how tired I am and how awful working for 8 hours every single day is (I absolutely love my job, but something about the idea of spending 8 hours in an office every single week day for the next 40-ish years is just soul destroying!), I’ve decided to look forward to all the fun plans I have for this summer. Positive mental attitude, right?

June

On Tuesday, we are going to see a charity concert in Durlach starring our quiz master’s band, who will be accompanying (among others) Fish from Marillion (remember them from the 80s?), and Fools Garden, who became world famous with their song Lemon Tree but are actually from Pforzheim – just down the road from Karlsruhe!

In a mere 17 days, Jan and I are heading to Vienna. Last time we were there, it was New Year and freezing (we went into the butterfly house purely to warm up!), so I’m hoping for good weather this time! We’re actually going there to see Pear Jam perform on the Wednesday night (a gift from me to Jan for our 10th anniversary of being in a relationship), but personally I’m mostly looking forward to the Austrian food πŸ˜‰ Hopefully this time I will finally manage to try MarillenknΓΆdel! This will also be my June trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.

July

I love hosting visitors, but it so rarely happens. After my sister and her boyfriend came two years ago for the Formula 1, I insisted that now it’s my brother’s turn to visit… and he finally is, at the end of July! He’s actually been to Karlsruhe before, with my mum, but that was 6 years ago (when he was 17), and they were only here for two days. This time he can legally drink (well, he could have had beer or wine last time, but he doesn’t like either) and we have more time. I’m looking forward to showing him more of the local area.

August

Well, it’s my birthday month, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be working so that’s not too exciting.
BUT… I will be spending the last week of August in Taiwan! Jan is presenting a paper at a conference there from 18-22 August, so he decided to take a week’s holiday and hang around to actually see some of the place. Since he warned me far enough in advance this time, I was actually able to save some holiday so that I can go too. Jan will be going over a week before me for the conference, and I can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to taking two long flights on my own (or the four-hour layover in Dubai for that matter!). But hey, I get to go to Taiwan! (And also cross “visit a new continent” off my 35 before 35 list.) We’re currently looking into where exactly we want to go while we’re over there (the tour will obviously start and end in Taipei because, well, that’s where we’re flying from/to), so if you have any tips please send them my way!

And that’s it. OK, officially it’s not autumn unti the autumnal equinox (23 September in 2013), but September to me is an autumn month. And besides, I don’t have any plans past August yet so I couldn’t include September in the list even if I wanted to πŸ˜‰

What do you have planned for the summer?

A surprise and a concert

Hello!
Did you all have a good weekend? I did, but it was very busy, which meant I spent most of today trying not to fall asleep at work and wishing I could just go home already.

We had tickets to a concert on Saturday evening, after which a friend was planning on staying over, and Jan had been telling me all week to keep the afternoon free because there was something he really, really wanted to show me at the Natural History Museum, which was having an open day. The thing at the museum (at this point I had no idea what it was!) was starting at 4 p.m. and the concert was at 8, so I thought I had better prepare some food before hand in case there wasn’t time for cooking in between the museum and the concert. I decided to make a Couscous herb and fruit salad from the BBC food website which I’ve done twice before and was a hit both time. And I bought some chicken breasts for us to quickly cook and season to go with them.

I finished preparing the salad at 3 o’clock and my friend’s tram arrived at 3:07. Perfect timing! The three of then had a cup of tea together before heading off the the Naturkundemuseum where we found…. hedgehogs! To be specific, a presentation on hedgehogs which was followed by the listeners getting to stroke the hedgehogs that had come to visit. They were so cute! One of them was just born in August. He’s still a baby… awww! And no, I didn’t get prickled (as someone on Facebook asked me). So, that was my surprise… and now I really want a hedgehog! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of any of the hedgehogs (the one I was closest to was being held against a woman’s breast… somehow I don’t think she would have appreciated me whipping a camera out!), so here’s one from the Internet instead. I do love their little faces πŸ˜€

A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Espera...
A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the museum, it was off back to my flat for food, then we had to head to Europahalle for the concert. We went to see the Wise Guys, who are a German a capella group who do some serious but mostly funny songs. In German, unfortunately, so most of you won’t understand but here is one for the German speakers amongst you. It’s called Denglisch, and is about how English (and pseduo-English!) expressions are taking over the German language.

I hope it works ok. This computer doesn’t actually have any sound at the moment…

My ex-colleague had come from Luxembourg for the concert (it was actually her that suggested Jan and I go too, seeing as we live in Karlsruhe!) and it was lovely to see her. The concert was really good as well – the Wise Guys are very talented and the songs were pretty funny. I didn’t understand everything, of course, but enough to have a good time.

On Sunday morning we met up with my ex-colleague and her friends again for breakfast – which involved me getting up at 7:30 a.m! Suddenly today’s tiredness doesn’t seem so surprising. We went to a place called Cafe Palaver, which is fabulous. The food is always really good and reasonably priced as well, for example 2 croissants with butter and a little pot of jam costs €4. Highly recommended if you’re ever in Karlsruhe!

After breakfast, the rest of the group had to head for the train station so Jan and I decided to go to the zoo (we have annual passes). We knew the snow leopards had had babies a few months ago, so we were looking forward to seeing the kittens (I think that’s what baby snow leopards are…), but we also discovered another new addition to the zoo. I want to visit the meerkats, because I think they’re great, and two enclosures down we discovered these guys:

Otters! They were so playful and kept looking up at the people watching them and squeaking, almost as if they were trying to communicate. They were probably saying “go away and let us play in peace!”. We then had an hour at home before K came over and we headed off to Mosbach to see another friend perform with her choir, but I’ll write about that in a separate post I think. I have photos to show you of the town (it’s very pretty!) and this post is already long enough…

Tina Dico 2012

As I mentioned in Friday’s blog post, Jan and I went with some friends to see Tina Dico on Saturday. We went last year as wel and loved it, so as soon as I heard she was coming back to Karlsruhe this year I knew I had to have tickets, and she did not disappoint. Last year she had just one person with her, Helgi Jonsson (from Iceland). This year there was an entire band, which included Helgi on keyboard, trombone and harmonies. But she also performed some songs alone and one or two with just Helgi. And both the songs I had requested on Facebook were played, although I have no way of knowing whether she even saw my comment. She did ASK for requests for her Germany tour though, so I thought I might as well get mine in there. (In case anyone was wondering, I asked for One and Room With a View – the latter she actually played as a second encore, apparantly the first time she’s come out a second time throughout the entire tour. Or so she said). It was a great night and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For those of you who don’t know who Tina Dico is, here’s a song for you. Enjoy!

Friday letters

I spotted this over on Moose Noose and thought I would join in this week.

Dear senders of packages. PLEASE do not use Hermes! They don’t turn up when they say they’re going to, regularly fail to ring the doorbell when they do turn up and the opening hours of their so-called “packet shop” (in a dry cleaners) are even worse than the post office!

Dear Friday. You have no idea how pleased I am to see you! It’s been a looong week. But on the plus side, I have managed to amass some more overtime, which means a day off is definitely in my future.

Dear weather. I’m loving the fact that you’ve decided to warm up again. Now if you could manage to stay like that all weekend that would be amazing!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you sooo much for suggestiong we order pizza for tea rather than me cooking something. Junk food is exactly what I need after this week.

Dear Tina Dico. It’s been almost a year now since I read that you were coming back to Karlsruhe in 2012 and around 5 months since I bought our tickets. Tomorrow it’s time for the concert. I can’t wait! And I really hope you sing One, because I love that song.

That’s it from me. You can read more letters here:

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Because she’s amazing

On Monday, Jan and I went to see Tina Dico in concert. She’s Danish (but sings in English) and is – unfortunately – relatively unkown outside of her own country. Unfortunately becuase she is excellent and needs to be heard everywhere. Which is why I’m sharing the following YouTube video with you. Listen! It’s worth it πŸ™‚