August 2019 recap

Hello my lovely readers! I am not impressed that August is over already. This year is definitely going too fast. It’s the ninth month of the year and I feel like I have literally nothing to show for 2019! Aaah. We’re going to see John Cleese tonight and then I’ve taken tomorrow off since it was supposed to be a going into the office day and there’s no way I’m taking a 7 a.m. train after a late night. Buuuut I’m supposed to be recapping August, so enough of that. I’m linking up with the amazing Kristen, of course (if you don’t know who she is then all I can say is why not?).

whats new with you

Sticking with the same format as last month and grouping things into headings.

Travel/day trips

We started out the month by going out for the day on 1st August – which was Swiss national day. I caused some confusion last month by saying I had taken the day off, so I’ll clear that up now. Yes, Switzerland does get a holiday on 1st August, but I work in Germany (or mostly from home, but my employer is in Germany) so it’s not a holiday for me. I get German Reunification Day instead, which is in October. Anyway, to celebrate Switzerland’s birthday we… went to France? Obviously. We chose Eguisheim, which is a really cute little village in Alsace. Since it was a weekday and not a holiday in France, it wasn’t too crowded – not sure what it’s like on weekends or peak summer holiday season. After wandering around the village for a while, we sat and had a drink and a snack then drove up to some castle ruins above the village. It was a good day.

Two days later, it was the weekend and we had arranged to meet a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg. She lives in Karlsruhe so it’s technically not halfway (it’s a lot closer to us!) but since Freiburg is always worth a visit and they had never actually been that’s the place we decided on. We strolled around the city, had lunch, climbed a hill and a tower to get a view of the the city and then had ice cream. We hadn’t seen each other since December so it was nice to catch up.

Freiburg

Two weeks later we headed to Karlsruhe. For those who don’t know, that’s where we lived in Germany before we moved to Switzerland. We had plans to meet some friends (plus their friends) who were visiting from California on the Sunday, so we decided to go up a day early and see whether anyone else was around. It was all arranged at slightly short notice so quite a few people were busy or away (I mean, August is summer holiday time for most people), but a few people were around. We met up with two friends, one of whom came with his wife and their son (who was exactly 12 weeks old that day – they got married a short time before the baby was born). Later, we happened to bump into two other friends at a tram stop, and they had their two children with them… the second, who we didn’t know about, was born in December. Another person we were supposed to meet up with but who ended up not having time had got married the weekend before. A while ago tagged in a meme that went something like “All my friends are getting married and having babies. I read over 100 books last year!” and it has never felt more accurate than during that weekend in Karlsruhe (never mind the fact that I had actually been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for around a year at the time I was tagged!). Anyway… we managed to visit two of my favourite places in Karlsruhe: Sukie’s Cake Shop (which I wrote about when it first opened) and Soul, which is where I celebrated my 30th birthday. It was also the Schlosslichtspiele that weekend – a festival of light involving projections on the castle – so we briefly stopped by that.

Schlosslichtspiele2019

The next day, we drove to OttenhĂśfen in the Black Forest to meet our friends to go hiking. I also got to meet their daughter for the first time (Jan had seen her when he visited them in California in November). She’s 18 months and so cute. We had a delicious lunch and a nice hike – at least until the heavens opened and we all got drenched. But the rain stopped again shortly before the end of the hike and then there was cake so it was all good.

Renovation stuff

I know I promised I wasn’t going to talk about this again, but the final radiator that was missing turned up on my birthday. I was tempted to ask them to put a bow on it for me. LOL. Someone then came a week later to add some kind of stop to the dining room window, and I took the opportunity to point out that one of the (new!) blinds had stopped working. Apparently we’re not the only ones who’ve encountered that problem. He write it down so hopefully someone will come and fix it. But that really is it done now. We’re expecting to receive the information about the rent increase at any time…

Birthday

I briefly mentioned it above so I suppose I’d better get it over with. I turned 36 on 13th August. I can’t say I was really looking forward to my birthday this year – when I turned 35, I was expecting to be the mother of twins by my next birthday, and once we started trying again I hoped I would at least be pregnant again by now (given we had our first IUI after the loss in December I don’t feel like I was being too optimistic. I mean, the fertility treatments clearly worked once before!). It ended up being an okay day though. I got way more gifts and cards than I expected, and although I was working for most of the day I did get to finish early and spend some time reading, then Jan took me out for a delicious meal. So I can’t really complain. Hopefully next year will be an entirely different birthday.

Reading

It was the bonus round of Erin’s challenge so I was mostly concentrating on that. I ended up reading a couple of books that took me days to finish so I didn’t get through as many as usual. I did, however, manage to read Wundersmith, which I loved just as much as I was expecting. If you want to know more about what I read in August, you’ll have to wait for Show Us Your Books on Tuesday.

Cross-stitch and crafty stuff

I had quite a bit going on in August. I had stitched half of a pattern for my friend’s son whose birthday is in August, so I had to get that finished, made up into a card and posted. Then my brother turned 13 on 1st September, so obviously his card had to be made and sent before the end of the month. Plus Post Pals announced that they are holding an auction to send the kids and their families glamping next year and I promised to contribute a few cross-stitched cards. I also had my godson’s birthday card to stitch (his birthday isn’t until the 13th but I needed to post his presents as packages can take a while to arrive). Just like every month, some Post Pals and their siblings had birthdays in August and at the beginning of September. I’ve mostly been sending shop-bought cards recently (no time!) but in August I hand-made cards for two Post Pals siblings. Phew. This month I am finally starting to stitch my Christmas cards and I will also be making Halloween cards for Post Pals, so that will keep me busy for a while!

 

Visitors

As you will have seen if you read my photo an hour post, Jan’s mum and her partner came to see us for the day. Every year they have a holiday at Lake Constance and we always try to meet up with them. This time they wanted to see our renovations, of course. Then we went into town and had food and drinks. They’ve been to Basel before so we didn’t need to show them around and it was too hot to do much walking anyway so we just had a nice, relaxing day.

Miscellaneous/general other stuff

In infertility news… I had to have a hysteroscopy, which is when they insert a camera in the uterus. They told me to take a painkiller an hour beforehand but it still hurt. Do not recommend. (I mean, if you need one I obviously recommend that you go ahead and have it done, but be prepared for pain.) The doctor found some scar tissue (probably caused when I had to have a curettage after losing the boys) and a cyst in the lining, so she removed those which will hopefully mean an embryo is now in with a chance of implanting. Fingers crossed!

This past weekend (which I am aware was only half in August) Jan was away and instead of sorting out the million and one things that needed doing, I decided to reorganise my books. Because of course. I’m still not fully happy with it… specifically with some of the shelves on the right-hand bookcase. But it will do for now. Most of my to-read books are now at the bottom left – both rows of the second shelf up and the ones at the front of the very bottom shelf. Yes, I have problems… (also no idea how they’re going to fit on the other shelves once I’ve read them!)

bookcases

Other than that work has been both busy and far too quiet at different times (obviously). During the last week of the month, whoever of my colleagues and former colleagues/interns, etc. can make it go out for a meal and this time I managed to be in the office on the right day – usually I don’t make it since I’m there on the first Friday of the month and two weeks in a row would be a bit much, but tomorrow I have the day off so I rearranged things a bit. It was nice to be able to join again, even though I had to rush off before everyone else to avoid getting back to Basel even later.

Jan had to work late a lot in August and also had choir rehearsals/meetings on some other evenings, so I was home alone for dinner a few times. As a result, I’ve done a terrible job of eating vegetables this month – I really must stop just shoving something in the oven when I’m eating alone! But thanks to the heat I haven’t done too badly at drinking enough water. I also managed to write I think two penpal letters this month… one was a reply to a letter I received in around February, which pretty much sums up how I’m doing with all my relationships this year. Pen pals, real-life friends, people online… I don’t discriminate – I’m an equally bad friend to everyone this year. Sorry (and not “not sorry”. I really am sorry – although apparently not enough to have a word with myself and start being a better friend?) That’s all I can think of. Probably a good thing… this post is already long enough 😉

I hope you all had a great August! Check out the link up to see what else has been happening recently in blog land.

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A Photo an Hour: 23 March 2019

Hello friends! I took part in A Photo an Hour with Louise and Jane on Saturday and now I’m finally getting round to writing my blog post. It was one of those rare occasions on which I was actually doing something so 90% of my photos don’t consist of housework and the view from my couch. Hurrah! Let’s take a look at what I did, shall we?

9 a.m. Starting the day with a cuppa, as always.

10 a.m. Showered, now to decide what to wear.

11 a.m. Buying a train ticket while Jan’s in the shower.

12 noon. On a train, about to leave Basel.

1 p.m. Train coffee!

2 p.m. Still on the train, passing Lake Thun.

3 p.m. We changed to a regional train at Interlaken Ost. Photo from somewhere near Brienz.

4 p.m. After three hours on the train we discovered that our detination – the Aare Gorge – was closed. Plan B: cable car up the Hasliberg.

5 p.m. After walking around the village on the mountain for a bit, we’re back in the cable car waiting to head down again.

6 p.m. Reading a book, waiting for the train to leave Meiringen.

7 p.m. On another train, stopped at Thun station.

8 p.m. Still on the train. At least I’ve had plenty of time to read my book!

9 p.m. On the tram home after stopping off to buy a few bits.

10 p.m. Food! There were scrambled eggs as well but I had eaten them all by photo time.

After taking the final photo, I finished my dinner, read the last few pages of the book (in time to return it to the friend who lent it to me the following day) and was in bed before 11.

Next photo an hour is on Saturday, 27th April 2019 if anyone feels like joining in. Simply take one photo every hour and post to Twitter or Instagram using the #photoanhour hash tag or save your photos and write a blog post afterwards.

A Photo an Hour: 19 January 2019

Hello lovely readers! On Saturday, I took part in the first photo an hour day of 2019 via Twitter, and now I’m finally getting round to also posting the photos on my blog. So here’s what I got up to.

10 a.m. Out of bed and wearing my new slippers. Very cosy they are too!

11 a.m. Aww, my tea mug loves me.

12 noon. Made it to the post office to pick up a package before it closed, now doing a bit of shopping.

1 p.m. “Helping” Jan make the office light work… which at that point manly involved watching and waiting (my main job was to hold the light up in the air while he attached it to the ceiling).

2 p.m. We wanted to go out since it was actually sunny so I started looking up places to go.

3 p.m. Finally on the move!

4 p.m. Emmental! We reached our destination not long after that photo.

5 p.m. Back in the car heading closer to the mountains. We were in Burgdorf, if you’re wondering.

6 p.m. Still in the car. It’s hard to take photos in the dark!

7 p.m. Almost back in Basel.

8 p.m. Fooood! Leftovers from the night before plus some refried beans from a tin. It tasted nicer than it looks 😉 (Inside the tortilla was chicken, avocado, tomatoes, cheese and lots of garlic).

9 p.m. Making us both hot drinks.

10 p.m. Reading in bed.

11 p.m. It’s good night from Eeyore (and good night from me).

And that was all from that day. If it had been up to me, we would have gone out sooner and had time to stop off somewhere else before it got dark, but Jan wanted to get the light sorted, which is legitimate.

How was your Saturday? Did you do anything nice?

2018 travels

I seem to have neglected my travel posts in 2018… by which I mean I think I wrote about maybe two of our trips? We didn’t have a proper holiday (well, Jan did – 10 days travelling to Vienna, Sofia, Belgrade and Istanbul with his choir), but we did manage a few days out and weekends away. So before I entirely forget what we actually did this last year (almost forgot!), I thought I would write a round-up post of all our travels…

We started the year in Geneva, where we got very wet watching the New Year’s fireworks! We had arrived there on 29th December (I think) and left in the evening on 1st January. There was a festival of lights happening, which was nice, and we had a lovely walk around the lake, where we saw a woodpecker (which I didn’t manage to photograph), several robins and lots of different duck species, but overall I wasn’t that impressed with Geneva. It seemed dirty and despite not being particularly huge felt kind of like a large city, with lots of traffic going right through the centre. I much prefer Basel, as provincial as some may find it!

One Saturday in February we decided to head to Aarau, since it’s close by and we had never been. We discovered a cute little town where the undersides of the roof eaves are beautifully painted.

It was freezing and when it started to rain we were pleased to find an open cafĂŠ where we could have a hot drink and some Flammkuchen.

Later in February, we headed to Dijon for a weekend. The Sunday happened to be photo an hour day, so miraculously I actually posted about part of that trip! Dijon is quite a charming city but a lot of the old buildings could use some renovation. Best known for its mustard, the Dijon region is also the home of Kir – a French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine (Kir Royal uses champagne) – and, being in Burgundy, Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin. Those two dishes are what Jan and I ate on the evening we spent there and both were delicious.

We didn’t actually go anywhere in March… or at least I didn’t – Jan left for his trip at the end of the month. But on Easter Monday, which fell on 2nd April in 2018, I took a tram to the nearby town of Aesch and walked up to some castle ruins above the town. It was a cloudy day, but I still had a great view of Basel from the top.

At the end of the month, when Jan was back, we decided to go up to St Chrischona. Once again, it happened to be a photo an hour day, so I actually have a post about our walk!

At the beginning of May, we drove down to just outside Munich for my cousin’s confirmation. On the way, we stopped for lunch in Bregenz, Austria and the day after the confirmation we went to Partnach Gorge near Garmisch-Patenkirchen with my uncle who lives near Munich plus my aunt and uncle who came over from England for the confirmation.

We also did the 24 stops walk in May, which is a sculpture path between Switzerland and Germany.

Basel 24 stops
One of the 24 Stops sculptures

On 26th May, Jan got a car and we drove to the TrĂźmmelbachfälle – a group of ten glacier-fed mountains inside a mountain. On the way back we stopped in Spiez to see it in the light, since the last time we were there it had been night time.

At the very end of May, we flew to England for a few days because we had been invited to a wedding on 2nd June. On the last day of May, we went out for the day with my mum and brother, first taking a walk around the lake at Druridge Bay, before stopping in Warkworth for lunch and finally visiting the beach at Amble. I my have lived abroad for most of my adult life, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Northumberland’s breathtaking beauty.

Later in the month, we took a day trip to Wasserfallen, where we took a cable car up a mountain, walked around and saw some people returning from llama trekking. No photos from there because I appear not to have them on the computer! Then on the weekend of 30th June/1st July, we had a mini-break on Lake Lucerne. We stayed in Vitznau, directly on the lake, and the next day took the cable car from Vitznau up to the Wissifluh – part of Rigi – before driving down to Stans to head up the Stanserhorn. On both mountains, we saw lots of butterflies.

I was actually pregnant at that point but had no idea.
The following weekend, we spontaneously decided to drive to the French-speaking part of Switzerland, specifically to St Ursanne, then later headed on to Neuchâtel where we ate dinner.

August was my birthday month but didn’t involve any travel for me – although Jan had a rehearsal weekend with his choir. But in September my mum, her friend and my brother came to visit and on one of the days we went to Mount Rigi and Lucerne for the day with our visitors. We got cheap deal day tickets and took ordinary trains, cogwheel trains and a boat. It was a long day but really nice. (Those last two sentences are copied directly from the draft post of my September recap, which was all written and just waiting for me to add photos. I never ended up posting it because the day before it would have gone up was the day I lost the twins and the post included pregnancy talk).

We didn’t do much travelling in October, for obvious reasons, but eight days after I was released from hospital we went to France, first stopping in the fortified town of Neuf-Brisach and then visiting Riquewihr, which was absolutely gorgeous but also absolutely packed full of tourists. Although I was still slightly weak from lack of iron, it was a much needed day out.

in November we wanted to get away from it all and went to Yverdon les Bains for a weekend. We ate delicious food, walked a lot and toured the castle. Back in Basel, after a meeting at the town council with the person responsible for bereavement, we got a car and drove part-way up a mountain then walked the Geissflue circular route. It was a beautiful day and the autumn colours were stunning!

At the end of November, while Jan was in the US, my mum and sister visited and we took a brief trip to Freiburg im Breisgau to see the Christmas market.

December was an incredibly busy month between Jan’s choir concerts and Christmas, but we did manage one day trip… on Boxing Day we drove to Murten – a small medieval town near Fribourg. It was cloudy and cold but we still had a walk around the town and along part of the wall before heading into a pub for some food.

And that concludes 2018’s travels. Despite all the ups and downs of the year, we actually managed to fit quite a lot in. There was only one month without any travel at all! We spent New Year at home this time, but I am hoping to kick off this year’s travels with a trip out to somewhere tomorrow. And beyond that? We have no plans as yet, but I am hoping for a proper holiday in 2019. Stay tuned!

If you go down to the woods today…


Es war einmal
“Once upon a time…”

No, you won’t see any teddy bears… not in these particular woods anyway! Last year, at around this time, we wanted to do something on a sunny day that just happened to also be a public holiday in both Germany and Switzerland. I had read about a fairytale sculpture trail in some nearby woods, so we hopped on a tram to Reinach and went exploring.

The sculpture path originally opened in 2005 with 12 sculptures. More were added in 2008, 2009 and 2011, for a total of 46 fairytale characters by 22 artists today. Obviously the later ones are in better condition than the earlier ones. Some of the sculptures represent specific fairytales that I recognised, some are Swiss tales that I didn’t know and others seem to just be general fairytale themes, for example a palace or witch that didn’t seem to be from any particular story.

fairytale palace

The palace above is actually a marble run, which is pretty cool. We found a marble on the floor and managed to give it a go. Then, later on the trail, we found this:

We spent quite a while playing with it because… well, you just would, wouldn’t you? So fun!

Poor Puss in Boots appeared to have fallen victim to a madman with an axe, and Pinnochio had lost his famous nose completely. Does that mean he had been telling too many truths? Telling tales unnecessarily, perhaps?

We found Red Riding Hood, hiding from a rather young looking wolf.

I immediately recognised the following sculpture as a mirror and assumed it was SNow White, but its sign informed me it’s actually Momo’s mirror. Momo is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, which I started reading ages ago and never finished so I’m not sure where the mirror comes in!

Momo's mirror

Of course, no fairytale trail would be complete without an actual fairy!

fairy sculpture

We didn’t bring any food with us, but there is a picnic area in the woods including a place where you can “grill” over an open fire. The sculpture trail is only in a small part of the woods, and there is also a nature trail throughout the whole thing – the signs are only in German but I’m sure you can still have a nice walk. The photos I’ve shown here are, obviously, just a few of the sculptures. There are plenty more to discover. I can recommend this to anyone visiting Basel who has children or – like me – just loves fairytales!

To get to the sculpture trail, take tram number 11 from Basel to the stop called “Reinach SĂźd”. The start of the trail is a short walk – about 10-15 minutes. Follow signs for “Schulhaus Fiechten”.

Kandinsky, Marc & Der Blaue Reiter at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen

Hello my lovelies! It’s been a whole week since I last posted (and almost as long since I came to visit anyone else’s blog. Sorry about that… I will be over soon!). Visitors, work and card making have conspired to keep me away from this little space of mine! But now I’m back with a post about a visit to an art gallery, which counted for November in Take 12 Trips. That means I’m actually caught up with Take 12 Trips posts since I haven’t actually taken my December trip yet!

dscn9488
Outside the Fondation Beyeler building

At the beginning of November, a friend came to visit us because he wanted to go to an art exhibition in Basel… or rather in Riehen, a neighbouring town. The exhibition is actually still on at Fondation Beyerler until 22 January and it’s all about the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, and an almanac they wanted to produce called “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider), which would collect together artwork and writings from various artists. It was supposed to be published annually, but only one ever appeared, in 1912. After that war got in the way and Franz Marc was actually killed at Verdun in 1916.

You were allowed to take photos of some of the art in the gallery (some things had a “no photos” symbol beside them), so here are a few of the ones I took:

Most of the work was too abstract for me, but it was interesting to look at – and especially to see Marc’s transition from relatively normal looking animals (in funny colours) to things that could juuust about still be recognised as what he claimed they were. Kandinsky is really not to my taste though!

After looking at the art, we headed out into the gardens, which at the time were filled with lovely autumn colours. A few photos from there:

Touristy bit: To get to Fondation Beyerle, take tram number 6 to Fondation Beyeler. You can also take tram 2 to Riehen Dorf, but from there you will have to walk a little bit.

This art gallery visit was my November trip for Take 12 Trips 2016. One more trip to go!

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2016

Ludwigsburg KĂźrbisfest 2016

Wow, I have actually reached October in my travel posts, which means I’m almost caught up with #Take12Trips, Take 2.

This year, we went to the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg again. A Finnish friend we have made in Basel (who from now on shall be referred to as The Finn) plus two friends from Karlsruhe also joined us.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, the theme this year was “circus”, or rather “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town”. Apparently, that was mostly interpreted as clowns (if you don’t like clowns you may want to look away now…)

Even those who don’t mind clowns have to admit the last one is creepy. A clown throwing knives? Who came up with that?

There were a few other things as well:

This little group is called the Hubbard Family (because they’re carved using hubbard pumpkins). Personally I like to think of them as the Dumpty family because they remind me of Humpty Dumpty ! (I know he’s usually pictured as an egg and was actually probably a cannon). They’re the work of American artist Ray Villafane and the Hubbard family was featured in Ludwigsburg for the 4th time in a row in 2016 (although I don’t remember seeing them last year).

Here are some more photos from around the festival:

This year I ate pumpkin Maultaschen in pumpkin soup, orange and hokkaido ice cream and pumpkin strudel. All were delicious!

While wandering around, we spotted a bird. A survey of my Facebook friends came to the conclusion that it’s a common buzzard:

Once we’d seen everything at the actual festival, we had a wander round the fairytale garden then went looking for the aviary. There weren’t many birds around – I’m sure there were more when I went there before? It was raining on and off all day though, so maybe they were all hiding somewhere dry?

Of course, before heading home we hit the shop and bought a few pumpkin varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets plus some pumpkin seed pesto.

Despite the rain, it was a fun day out (although I thought last year’s “flight” theme had some more interesting interpretations for the sculptures!).

The festival has finished for this year since I’ve taken so long to write my post, but if you’re in the Stuttgart area definitely look out for it next September/October. This year’s festival took place from 2 September-6 November and next year’s will probably be roughly the same.

This was my October trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.