June 2020 recap

Happy July friends! We’ve actually made it through half of this messed up, unpredictable year. As always on the first Thursday of the month, I’m linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You.

Honestly, June wasn’t the best for me for reasons that I will not go into now. Maybe one day. Also, my mum was supposed to visit but obviously couldn’t so I have no idea when I will see her (or any of my family) again.

But anyway, what did I actually do in June?

I made cards for two friends who had babies 15 days apart. One boy, one girl. The second child for each of them.

I’ve blurred out the name on the second card. Even if none of you know who my friend is, there’s no need for her daughter’s name to appear on my blog. (If you can actually manage to read it despite the blurring, please keep it to yourself.)

Switzerland relaxed the rules a lot more. Basically everything is open now. The border with Germany opened again on the 15th, but I haven’t actually been into the office yet. Jan went into his office once because he had to pick something up, then he went for lunch with some colleagues (keeping the appropriate distance apart) including someone who is relatively new, as in started working there during lockdown, so he thought it would be nice for her to actually meet some people in person. I haven’t actually been to any shops yet (other than supermarkets/pharmacies) but we did pick up take away sushi from a local place that doesn’t do delivery. Theoretically, events with up to 1,000 participants are allowed now, but I don’t expect there to actually be any since as far as I know everything that was originally going to be in July or August has already been pushed back to the autumn or next year.

We walked into town a couple of times, avoiding people as best as possible. On one of those walks, we had a drink by the river – staying on “our” side because the other side was packed! Some people seem to think this whole thing is over – and yes, Switzerland is doing pretty well, but at the end of last week there were 69 daily cases compared to just 18 at the beginning of the week, so even here where numbers are low we’re far from out of the woods!

Jan went to his first choir practice since the beginning of March! He says they put the chairs an appropriate distance apart and not many people were actually there anyway. Their next practice will be in August, provided Switzerland doesn’t end up having to restrict things again by then…

I finished 17 books. You will find out what they were on on Show Us Your Books day. There were a few I really enjoyed but only one I gave five stars, which happened to be the very last one I read in June: With the Fire on High.

That’s it I think. I don’t have anything else to tell you. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Don’t forget to check out the link up. And tell me what’s new with you.

April 2020 recap

Well, I’ve made it through the first full month of semi-lockdown. Hurrah! Switzerland actually started lifting a very few restrictions towards the end of the month  – as of 27th April hairdressers, garden centres, DIY stores, medical massage practices, physiotherapists and dentists have been allowed to open again (I went to a dentist appointment yesterday that was originally supposed to be in March!). Of course, all of those things could only open with strict measures in place  – limited numbers of people allowed in, markings on the floor to show people where to stand while queuing, hairdressers and their customers must wear masks  – but we are slowly creeping towards a new kind of “normalcy”.

Anyway, I’m here to recap what I did in April so I shall get on with that. Linking up with Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

We went for a lot of walks, in every possible direction from our building. Once we walked along the stream until we were two towns over and saw maybe 8 other people, another day we went into the woods and it seemed like all of our town and half the city of Basel were there jogging, cycling and in some cases picnicking  (despite signs telling them not to). We won’t take that route again!

Apart from our weekly walk, the only other time I left the house was once a week to go to the supermarket. One socially-distanced walk a week plus one supermarket trip a week seems like a reasonable compromise between staying home and not getting completely sick of being indoors!

Jan has been sleeping late, starting work between 10 a.m. and noon, and obviously then working late. I’ve been starting work as normal (between 7:30 and 8 a.m.) but occasionally had to finish early because I had nothing to do. On days that I do have work I try to stay logged in for longer to make up for the shorter days, with the result that I ended April with only 4 hours of overtime fewer than I hard at the start. That means I still have plenty I can take if things don’t pick up.

Jan usually takes a break in the evening so we can eat together, then we watch Richard Osman’s House of Games. BBC 2 is currently showing repeats but I discovered the show late so I don’t mind that they’re old ones. It’s such a fun distraction from everything that’s going on! Apart from that I don’t watch a lot of TV but Jan always has it on when he isn’t working so he made me watch two Indiana Jones films. I had never seen them before and could have happily lived my life without ever seeing them. Terrible films! We also watched Wonder, which was actually good  – but not as good as the book, obviously.

Speaking of books, I read a mere eleven in April (I thought it was 10 but it turns out I missed one). Nowhere near as much as usual! I can’t say they were 11 particularly long books either. A couple were 400ish pages but some were really short. Mostly I got distracted by a colouring book my friend Naomi sent me and took way too long to remember that audiobooks are a thing. Plus Jan being here on weekends instead of at 12 million choir practices and events leaves me with less reading time (but more time with him so overall a win). I will tell you which books I read on Show Us Your Books day.

We wanted to support local businesses and we had been planning to look for frames for some art for months so Jan ordered some from a place in Basel then framed and hung the pictures. Seeing them on the walls makes me so happy! I ordered a book from the only independent book shop I’m aware of I’m Basel even though I could have got the same book for cheaper including delivery costs if I’d ordered it from the UK! So that’s my contribution to the local economy.

Sometime towards the end of the month I decided to swap my usual black tea for green tea. It’s really not the same but I’m sticking with it for now. Green tea is supposed to be a little healthier – although I’m not sure it can make up for all the chocolate I’ve been eating in lockdown! Speaking of which… I made cheesecake. It was supposed to be this but I couldn’t get the right caramel and ended up using the sauce you get for ice cream which obviously did not work! I think I know where I can get something better but it’s in town and I’ve been avoiding going into Basel while we’re in this isolation/lockdown situation. We have 5 supermarkets in our town (slightly weirdly given its size) so there’s no excuse to go further away!

cheesecake

I spoke to my dad a couple of times and we skyped with my mum and brother. Luckily all my family are healthy so far. My sister and brother are able to work from home and my little brother is doing his assigned school work. Shout out to my mum and her colleagues who are out there on the front line every day! (My mum’s ward is not a covid-19 ward but they still get patients who have it, and they are also a trauma ward now so are very busy and stressed while also dealing with staff shortages.)

That’s about all. Easter obviously happened in April but we didn’t do anything special. I wanted to try making hot cross buns but I couldn’t find yeast anywhere!

Oh, I forgot to mention in March that I made a card for my friend’s new baby. I posted it on 1st April – along with a gift, obviously – so I’m going to cheat and slot it in here because I want to show off ;-). It arrived after a mere two weeks (after something I sent to my friend’s sons in March took nearly a month) so it seems the postal service is somewhat getting back on its feet.

baby card

How was your April? I hope you are staying healthy and happy in these trying times! Check out the link up to see how everyone else has been spending their time at home.

A couple’s day in lockdown, April 2020

I saw a few people doing “my day in quarantine” on their Instagram stories and I thought it would be fun to do something like that here, but a couple’s version. Also, I don’t call mine “quarantine” because people in quarantine don’t get to leave the house. My uncle was in quarantine for potential exposure because he had been in Tirol and he had to stay in his flat for 14 days and his daughter wasn’t allowed to come home from her mum’s for that entire time. If you can do your own shopping and see family members you’re not in quarantine! Anyway… rant about semantics over. This was Easter Saturday – I’ve just been too lazy to sort out the photos until now.

10 a.m.

Jan: Sleeping. (I took a photo of our bed the night before specifically for this purpose!)

Me: Making a cuppa, because that’s how I always start my day.

11 a.m.

Jan: Still sleeping.

Me: Getting some reading in before Jan emerges and the TV goes on.

12 noon.

Jan: In bed. Where else?

Me: Thought it was about time I actually ate something!

1 p.m.

Jan: No change 😂

Me: Time for a shower.

2 p.m.

Jan: Apparently got up while I was in the shower. No watching TV and eating breakfast.

Me: Reading is out, so now I’m colouring.

3 p.m.

Jan: Watching the news while playing a game on his phone.

Me: Watching the news and continuing to colour.

4 p.m.

Jan: Even when all live sport is cancelled, my boyfriend manages to find football!

Me: Finished my picture.

(Immediately after I took those photos Jan went for a shower and I hoovered the flat, but at photo time the above is what we were doing)

5 p.m.

Both: Our for a walk. Hello ducks!

6 p.m.

Both: Still walking. Said hi to some goats.

At 7 p.m. we were still out, walking towards home, but I forgot to take photos. It wouldn’t have been very interesting anyway since we came back along a busier road.

8 p.m.

Jan: Ordering food for us (and then he went and emptied the dishwasher).

Me: Getting started on my blog post for April’s Show Us Your Books.

9 p.m.

Both: Food came – and we also ordered some Italian soft drink things (that is actually not Coke!)

10 p.m.

Both: Watching Indiana Jones, apparently?! I had never seen it before. It was terrible! (He made me watch the next film the following night. It was even more terrible!)

I stopped taking photos after that. I took my book to bed and read until it was finished. Jan stayed up watching TV until I don’t know when.

And that is a snapshot of how each of us coped on one specific day in lockdown (or semi-lockdown really, since we’re still allowed out to buy food and go for long walks).

I also have an “official” photo an hour post still to come. That one will just be what I was doing. This couple’s was just something I thought would be fun.

I hope everyone is doing okay out there. Keep staying home. It will be worth it in the end!

Post isolation fantasy choices challenge

Kezzie has put together a challenge with some questions about what people will do when all the restrictions are lifted and we can safely go about our lives again. I thought it would be a fun thing to ponder so here are my answers.

1. Restaurant you would go out to.

We usually go to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Tibits whenever I’ve had to go into the office in Germany. We haven’t been since the beginning of March and I’m actually starting to miss it! Or I might like to try a restaurant that we haven’t been to yet.

2. Friend you would meet up with first.

As I mentioned in this post, I don’t really see many friends at the best of times, but I had been planning to meet up with my friend who lives Karlsruhe and her boyfriend once the weather got warmer so  hopefully we will get to do that before the summer is over!

3. Place you would go.

Realistically it will probably be Germany to work since I’ve now missed 3 of my regular trips there 😅. But if we’re talking fantasy answers I would love a weekend away somewhere. Maybe up a mountain somewhere in Switzerland.

4.  Shop you would go to.

I don’t really do much shopping outside if supermarkets – Switzerland is too expensive! So it would probably just be the department store Manor to buy stickers (I use them on the envelopes when I send cards for Post Pals or letters to my pen pals). Or I would go to the bookshop, wistfully read all the synopses then leave without buying anything because they’re sooo expensive. I can honestly order a book from Waterstones in the UK and pay less for it including postage to Switzerland!

5.  Food item you would buy/eat.

The only thing I haven’t been able to buy is yeast and since I planned to make hot cross buns with it I feel like that ship has sailed!

6.  Cake you would eat.

If I want cake I can make it (as long as if doesn’t involve yeast!) but I do love the chocolate, pear and hazelnut cake from the restaurant at Papiermühle so I would have to say that.

Toblerone cheesecake
Toblerone cheesecake

7.  Show you would/will go to see

We didn’t have any planned so I would have to see what’s on once events are allowed again. I’m hoping for another good comedian to come to Switzerland. Bill Bailey would be nice!

8.  Concert you will go to watch.

Jan is still hoping a project he’s involved in will go ahead in October so most likely that.

9.  Relative you will hug first.

My mum had been planning to come over in June so if we can rearrange that it will be her. But honestly I don’t even know when I will see any member of my family again. Flights probably won’t be going for a long time 😦

10. Holiday you would go on.

It would be great if we could rearrange the Poland trip we had to cancel. Or maybe I’ll take a trip to the UK and hug all my family!

11.  Other activity you would take part in.

I had been planning to sign up for a beginner’s crochet course at the end of March so if that’s repeated when things open again it will most likely be that.

12.  Thing you would do at work.

I am still working as normal and I already worked from home apart from on two days a month, so there’s no task that I need isolation to be over to be able to do. However, things were really slow this week so I am hoping our customers will get back to work so they can send us things to translate!

13.  Item you would buy.

I don’t think there is anything I want/need that I couldn’t just order now. Maybe we will finally get round to buying balcony furniture?

That’s it. I really enjoyed thinking up these answers. Hopefully I will get to actually do some of them this year! If you want to answer them too I would love to see your answers and please also link to Kezzie’s post and stop by to say hi/let her know you’ve done it.

It’s all the same to me (but also not)

As everyone else laments everything that’s changed for them recently, it occurs to me that my life is mostly continuing as before.

I’ve been working from home for almost five years now. My two trips to the office in Germany are on hold for the time being, but basically my situation is the same as always… at least for as long as there is work for me to do. So far I’ve had just about enough to keep working me normal hours, so keep your fingers crossed that continues to be the case!

Jan working from home as well is, of course, unusual. He has occasionally in the past but never for multiple days in a row. But since he’s set up in the spare room and seems to have multiple conference calls with California  (which means they take place pretty late in our time zone) I think I’m actually seeing less of him than before. At least when he goes to the office once he’s home for the evening he’s generally done. Now more often than not he’ll emerge briefly to eat whatever I’ve cooked then disappear back to the spare room until long after I’ve gone to bed.

I only ever managed to make two friends here… or possibly more acquaintances. They are the other half of our quiz team. But even before the pandemic we hadn’t yet managed to find a date this year when all of us had time for the pub quiz. The only other people I know here are from Jan’s choir, and while I occasionally get to join them to socialise (and even hosted one of them who needed a place to stay when Jan wasn’t even in the country) they’re really his friends. This was never more clear than when I decided to join them for a virtual beer last week only for it to end up as the three of them speaking Swiss German while I contributed nothing because I was too busy concentrating on trying to understand what they were actually saying! The rest of my friends and all my family are in other countries so not socialising regularly is nothing new for me.

Most of my hobbies are solitary, indoor activities. I read, I cross stitch, I make cards, I read blogs. My friend recently sent me a colouring book so I’ve been working on that. All of those are things I can still do.

bookcases
I won’t run out of books any time soon…

Day to day, my life is the same as it always was, except that I no longer go for walks on my lunch break, but only venture out to the supermarket once a week (whichever day we run out milk) and stock up on all the foods we’ve used since my last shop, hoping each time that what I buy will ensure I don’t have to set foot in the supermarket again until the following week.

The things that have really changed for me are more long term. I may not socialise regularly, but my friend K – who lives in Berlin – and I had been making plans to meet up in the summer. Who knows whether that will be able to happen now. I also had tentative plans with another friend and her boyfriend  – we went to the Christmas market in Baden-Baden last year and thought it would be nice to meet there again when the weather was nice for a look around the town. Now the weather is stunning but the border to Germany is closed and we’re all supposed to be staying at home anyway.

Speaking of nice weather, now is the time of year that we would be starting to go on day or weekend trips whenever Jan wasn’t busy with choir practices. And on the weekends that he wasn’t around, I would take long walks by myself or explore local places. That’s all out the window now  – we can still go for walks, we’re not in total lockdown yet, but we’re supposed to only take short walks close to where we live and avoid popular places where other people might want to go, so it will be a long time before I even get to see the Rhine in Basel again never mind anything further afield!

basel-rhine
One day I will get to see this view again…

Finally, my mum had been planning to visit us in June. Will some of the restrictions in Switzerland have been lifted by June? Maybe. It’s possible that at least some businesses may be able to open again by then (like dentists). Will the UK be back to normal by then? I doubt it. Will there be flights? Also doubtful. When will I get a see any member of my family again? Who knows.

But while I am sad that I am not going to be able to take any trips or see friends and family who live in other places, I feel like I am actually comparatively lucky. I have a job that I can still do even while self-isolating and a life that was already mostly spent indoors, alone (sometimes with my boyfriend). For other people, staying home is a much greater adjustment. Take Jan for instance: no going into the office every day and seeing colleagues, no practice every Monday with one choir or on several weekends and evenings a month for another, no regular meetings for another project he’s involved in, no going for beers with his friends. And his one choir’s trip to Sweden in May is also cancelled. How long do we think it will be before he’s entirely sick of only having me for company?  😉

I feel for all those of you who have had to cancel plans and are missing spending time with your friends, family and even co-workers. I hope this is all over soon and you get to be with them all again. And as for me… well, I’ll be just fine. I’ve been training for this situation for years. Who knew being anti-social and terrible at making friends would one day turn out to be a super power? 😂

How much has your day-to-day life changed since everybody started to stay home?

March 2020 recap

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

whats new with you

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

cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so endeth the first of my lockdown diaries.

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

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