Recent doings #7

Ugh, I’m behind on my blog reading again! If I haven’t commented on your blog recently I’m so, so sorry! We had a weekend away, then visitors and more visitors. This weekend we get a brief break but I need to get the flat sorted for the next round of visitors – Jan’s mum and her partner are here on 16th/17th July.

Anyway, it’s time for another “What’s New With You” linkup… which means another month is over. Where are you going, 2016? I wish I could pause you for a while to catch my breath…
So, what did I get up to in June?

What's New With You
Reading. I already did a check-in post for the summer reading challenge, so I’m not going to repeat myself here😉 I will, however, say that I’ve now finished The Magus! Woo hoo.
Watching. The news a lot immediately after the EU referendum. I still can’t believe the result. Why you so stupid, Britain?
Travelling. To the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) with my mum and brother. Jan and I also went to Graubünden at the beginning of June, so I’ll have lots of travel photos to share with you once I’m done with New Zealand. Here’s a sneak preview:
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Rheinfall
Cooking. Horse steak so my mum and brother could try it. Although technically Jan cooked it on the barbecue. I just made the veg😉
Waiting for. Our new wardrobe. Actually, we ordered it in April so I’ve been waiting for it a while, but it was finally due for delivery in June. Then it finally turned up but the back wall was missing, so I’m still waiting! The missing part is supposed to be coming next Wednesday…
Buying. Clothes. I went to Germany and purchased a skirt for €6 and a dress for €9 – you wouldn’t get clothes that cheap in Switzerland!
Drinking. Cocktails. We found a cute little bar that does interesting cocktails, so when we met up with two people we’ve been kind of hanging around with in Basel (yeah, I maybe made some friends?) we took them there and then took my mum and brother there as well.
What have you been doing recently? Check out the linkup to see how everyone else spent June.

Friday letters

I know I keep saying this, but where is this year going?! We’re more than half way through June already! Unbelievable. At this rate it’s going to be December and I’m going to realise I’ve achieved nothing all year!

But enough about that… letters!

Basel-postbox

Dear weather. You have a week to improve ready for me to show my visitors around Basel!

Dear mam/brother. Speaking of which… one week til I see you! I’m looking forward to it🙂

Dear new wardrobe. Can’t wait for you to finally arrive next week!

Dear scales. I’m still not impressed with the number you’re showing me, but at least now it’s moving in the right direction!

Dear cheese. Somebody posted an article on Facebook recently claiming you had been proven to be addictive. Not sure how scientific said article was but I can well believe it!

That’s it for today. I’m off to the shops to find something for tea. Happy Friday, everyone!

Hobbiton, New Zealand

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Our seventh day in New Zealand was spent waiting around at Queenstown airport for flights to start going again (everything was delayed due to morning fog) then picking up a hire car at Auckland airport and driving to my uncle’s place in Rotorua. Once there, we met my three-year old cousin and spent the evening eating takeaway curry and drinking wine/beer. I have no photos or interesting tales from that day, so we’ll skip straight to day 8 when my uncle had booked for us to go to Hobbiton. He had chosen a fairly early tour so that it would hopefully be less busy so we headed off straight after breakfast. I don’t remember our tour guides name,  but he was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. You could tell he had found his dream job and was absolutely in his element. Did you know that there are two versions of some of the hobbit holes – a “human” sized one and a smaller one. The people playing hobbits were filmed in front of the larger/human-sized one so that they looked the right size for it while the actors playing humans were filmed in front of the smaller ones to make them look too big for the little doorway. Obvious when you think about it, but it had never occurred to me before.

Anyway, I’m sure what you’re actually here for is photos. The place is truly stunning and the little hobbit doors are incredibly cute and colourful. I think everyone can agree on that, whether they’re into The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit or not🙂

Because most of the hobbit holes were only filmed from the outside, there were only a few that actually had an inside, and even those only went back a tiny bit. The scenes inside hobbit holes were, of course, filmed in studios.

Those of you who were hoping to see a photo of me in a hobbit hole are out of luck😉 The only photos that were taken involve other people. Jan doesn’t want to be on my blog and there’s no way I’m sharing a photo of a three year old for the entire Internet to see! Have some more hobbit holes and scenery instead😉

I love how there are so many flowers everywhere. They obviously put a lot of work into the upkeep🙂 Did you notice the bumblebee in amongst the last gallery? I couldn’t resist taking his photo when I saw him buzzing around outside one of the hobbit holes. I love bees! (Not wasps though, nasty vindictive creatures!)

Our entrance fee included a visit to the Green Dragon complete with a drink. I chose the red ale wile Jan went for a stout. There was also a ginger ale for children and non-alcohol drinkers. My cousin didn’t like hers so we all tried it and proclaimed it very tasty. You could also buy food. I’m not sure how you would find the time to eat it though! It wasn’t long before we were being shepherded back to the bus…

I actually thought that Hobbiton was very well done. It could so easily have been horribly commercialised, but it wasn’t particularly (well, other than only being allowed to go in with an official tour which isn’t really cheap!). I’m quite glad they didn’t go the route of having the tour guides dress as hobbits, with other people in costume buzzing around and some kind of “hobbit experience” that would make the whole thing feel a bit like a theme park! Instead we got a lovely walk in the sunshine, a tour guide who gave the impression of just wanted to talk about something he loves, and even my little cousin seemed to enjoy herself despite having no idea what was going on (she liked that everything was three-year-old sized). Overall, I think Hobbiton was worth it… although it’s possible I might think differently if I had been the one to pay for it😉

Recent doings #4

I wanted to post this yesterday, on actual link-up day (the first Thursday of the month), but Jan had taken over the computer to upload his photos, so in place of Friday letters I bring you my “doings” from March… even though you all already know it was all about New Zealand!

What's New With You
Reading: I bought (or rather had Jan buy me) Friday On My Mind by Nicci French from Zurich airport and read that while waiting for our flight to New Zealand. It was good! (I also read a book on the way back, but it was April by that time so I won’t include it).
Watching: On the flight to Dubai I watched The Rescuers Downunder – a sequel to The Rescuers. It seemed appropriate😉 (although it’s set in Australia, not New Zealand). It was very cute, of course. Then I watched something called The Gift, which was weird. On the Dubai-Auckland flight I watched Toy Story 3, which I had somehow never seen! Before New Zealand, we started watching Mr Robot, which I bought Jan for his birthday. Two episodes in, it seems good – but intense. It’s difficult to cross stitch while watching because I miss stuff.
Drinking: Many New Zealand beers! Also wine – we did a wine tour.
Visiting: My uncle in Rotorua. I met my three year old cousin for the first time, and she’s just the cutest!
Travelling: To New Zealand, obviously, but before that we did a day trip to Lausanne.
I can’t even remember what I was doing pre-New Zealand so I’m going to stop here.
What have you been doing recently?
Check out the link up to see how everyone else spent March!
p.s. I don’t know what’s wrong with my formatting? I swear I entered spaces between each item…

A labour of love

As you may or may not remember, I went to England at the beginning of January. The reason for the trip was my sister’s 30th birthday! It’s not every day your younger sister turns 30, so I decided to give her a special gift. I had a photo of her dog as a puppy converted to a cross stitch pattern and then stitched it for her. I started it last June and finished it literally on her birthday, 7th January 2016! Stupidly, I forgot to take a photo of the finished article, so I only have one of my sister and her boyfriend holding it after I gave it to her. I’ve cropped the photo so you can’t see the people in it (which is a shame because the smiles of joy say it all!). So, I present to you, Loki:

puppy

This is the biggest project I’ve ever done (over 1000 stitches, mostly in shades of gray!) and I’m extremely proud of it. My sister’s reaction was exactly what I had hoped for – I actually have a video of her literally jumping up and down with joy!

By the way, the extra fifth hand holding the bottom corner is my brother’s… neither of them has an extra arm! (Pity… I’m sure we all wish we did at times!)

My 2015

We had visitors over New Year who left on 2nd January, but now things are sloooowly starting to get back to normal (for a few days at least!) and I’ve found time to catch up on a little bit of my blog reading. I also have a number of posts still to write before I can start looking forward to what’s to come in 2016. For now, though, here’s my traditional recap of the year that’s just been…

January

We already knew that we were moving to Switzerland (although hardly anybody else did), so after our original plan to spend New Year in Iceland fell through due to the flights being so expensive, we decided to start the year in our new country. Midnight found us clinking mini sparking wine bottles on the banks of the Zürisee (Lake Zurich) before the offficial fireworks were set off at quarter past the hour.

Zürich fireworks show

I then returned to work, where I informed my boss that I would be moving to Switzerland. Thankfully, I ended up not having to quit because I was offered a telecommuting contract instead. Phew! I was then able to tell my colleagues, and finally announce the news on my blog. The rest of January was fairly uneventful, although we did begin the process of preparing for the move – responding to a few ads for flats in Basel and writing a cancellation letter for my Bahncard 100.

February

This month was mainly taking up with flat hunting – reading ads, emailing people, phoning people and travelling down to Basel to look at flats. It was a very busy and frustrating time! We did manage to have a look round Basel zoo on one of those trips though.

Basel zoo

March

In March, we finally actually found a flat! It was the 24th one we had looked at (out of 25) and was also the one with the most expensive rent, but it was also our favourite and to be honest by that time we’d given up being concerned about money. We just wanted somewhere to live! We signed the contract on Friday the 13th… not so unlucky for some! We then began the process of packing our entire lives into boxes ready for the removal men to pick up.

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At the end of the month, we had a leaving party, for which I made Toblerone cheesecake (yay, something crossed off my 35 before 35 list!), the removal men took away all the boxes and most of our furniture – leaving me to spend a month in a flat that contained a bed, a coffee table and two folding chairs – and Jan moved to Basel ready to start work.

April

Jan started his new job on 1 April and also got Internet set up in the new place so I could actually start working from home once I moved. In the meantime, I sorted out the remaining things that still needed doing back in Karlsruhe, including cancelling the Internet there and cleaning all the things! For Easter, I took a trip down to Basel to help Jan with some of the unpacking and furniture arranging. We also took a walk in the woods near our new home, where we spotted what I think was a mouse.

Mouse?

On the 26 April, I finally moved to Switzerland, but before that we did a beer tour of Karlsruhe with some friends. A fitting way to say goodbye to the place I had lived in for longer than any other!

May

This month saw me exploring my new home, in between unpacking more boxes and getting used to working from home every day! I also started the process of applying for my Swiss residency permit (including multiple trips to the Gemeindeverwaltung!) and joined in with Foodie Penpals for the first time.

June

June saw us exploring Basel some more, as well as taking part in a traditional walk around the boundary of our own small town. We also took a trip to Fribourg (also called Freiburg, but not the one in Germany) and I actually received my residence permit (Aufenthaltsbewilligung). Yay! I then wrote a post on how to move to Switzerland with a partner you’re not married to (just thought I’d throw that in there in case it’s useful to anyone). June always seems to be the month with all the long weekends, and 2015 was no exception, so we took advantage of that fact and went to Luzern and Mount Pilatus for the day. The top was mostly in the clouds, but it was still pretty great (but cold!).

Pilatus
View from Mount Pilatus

We also hiked from Sissach to Liestal on one weekend and on another visited a street food festival in Olten. Phew! A busy month.

July

In July, we took a walk to Mariastein Abbey, visited the beautiful church there and then walked to Landskron Castle. We saw bees there, which made me very happy!

Bee
Bzzz!

Jan’s mum and her partner came to see us for a day since they were on holiday close by. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year and it was waaay to warm to walk around much, but we showed them a bit of Basel. At the end of the month, I flew to England alone to attend my cousin’s wedding. It was a very brief visit, but it was lovely to see so many family members in one place!

August

Long term readers may remember that August is my birthday month. It turns out it’s also Switzerland’s – they celebrate their national holiday (Bundesfeiertag) on 1st August. So this month started with fireworks and Swiss flags.

Bundesfeier
Moo!

I spent my own birthday working, but we did go out for delicious Thai food in the evening. Later in the month, we took a trip to a butterfly house (where we saw real live toucans!) and some friends came down from Karlsruhe to belatedly celebrate my birthday with me. The day they were here, all of Basel’s towers had an open day so we went up the one that’s closest to where we live, Spalentor.

September

A friend came all the way from Luxembourg at the beginning of the month to watch the Lion King musical with us, and we also visited the Tinguely Museum with her. We finally managed to buy a proper ceiling light for my “office” – useful as the days were starting to get shorter! And I started my Christmas stitching to make sure it would get done in time. We also visited Karlsruhe to see Jan’s former choir perform at an annual festival.

Tinguely museum

October

Finally, a holiday! My first since I took a week off to move in April. We flew to England on 1st October so we could go out for a meal with my brother on the 2nd for his 25th birthday! We also attended three World Cup rugby matches, saw the “Wave” sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, visited Manchester and Alnwick (which I haven’t actually posted about yet!) and met up with many friends and family – all over the course of a mere 10 days! Having returned to Switzerland, we briefly relaxed before taking a trip to Germany on Halloween for the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival.

The Wave

November

A lot of cross stitching happened this month! Apart from that, we went to Engelberg-Titlis for a day (blog post to follow!), took a trip to Karlsruhe for my friend’s flat warming party and, at the end of the month, went to Colmar for the day to visit the Christmas markets.

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December

I barely managed to blog in December thanks to all the Christmas card stitching I was doing! We also briefly went to Karlsruhe to watch Jan’s former choir perform, returning immediately after the concert because Jan was also singing with a choir that evening! The next day, two of my colleague’s came down to Basel to visit the Christmas market and the following weekend we went to Bern where we visited the Christmas markets and looked around the town (blog post to follow). This means I’ve now completed the “visit 5 Christmas markets” item from my 35 before 35 challenge!

Bern town hall

Christmas was spent with Jan’s dad and his partner, before we headed up to his mum’s for a few days on the 26th. While we were there, we spent an afternoon in Göttingen and for the first time I actually managed to take photos there! (That’s another post that will follow). We returned to Switzerland on the evening of the 28th, leaving us two days to get everything sorted ready for our friends arriving on the 31st. We all ate raclette together (when in Switzerland…) before heading into town to watch the fireworks over the Rhine… and thus, for the first time since we’ve been together, Jan and I actually finished the year in the same country that we started it in!

Basel New Year's fireworks

Overall, 2015 was a year of big changes and we spent most of it getting used to our new home and, in my case, a new way of working. We also managed to see quite a bit of our new country, which was nice. Tomorrow, we leave for England for a few days, where we will be helping my sister celebrate her 30th birthday, and after that I’m looking forward to relaxing for a bit and getting back into a routine before we start thinking about what 2016 might bring!

 

Friday letters

Good morning! I have been the wooooorst blogger this week. Even more so than previous weeks, which you would have thought was impossible. I just can’t be bothered to switch from one computer to the other immediately after work (and I’m not supposed to use the work laptop for personal stuff). Plus, now I’m home all the time, I feel like I no longer have any excuse to not stay at least kind of on top of the housework. So yeah, blogging kind of falls by the wayside. And now I have plans for almost every weekend between now and the end of October, which is good but leaves me with almost no time for other stuff (blogging, reading, cross stitching…). But enough of that, on with Friday letters.

Mailbox

Dear September. I see you, waiting to pounce. How did you get here so quickly? I’m not ready!!

Dear Goodreads/Amazon. I want all the books, and it’s your fault! Well, yours and my addiction’s. But it’s you that adds fuel to the fire.

Dear “baby” brother. Not such a baby anymore! Hope you enjoy your 9th(!!) birthday on Tuesday.

Dear Basel. A street festival tonight and then a beer festival tomorrow (plus the jazz festival we attended last Friday evening). You spoil us with all your events! There definitely was not this much going on in Karlsruhe…

Dear England. Five weeks until I see you again! *Note to self: Get flights booked soon!*

Dear Lion King musical. I am excited to see you next weekend! Hope the tickets arrive soon…

Dear Tea. I’m glad our plan to see The Lion King worked out at such short notice. Can’t wait to see you and show you my new home!

Right, that’s all I have time for now. I have a tonne of work to do today. Have a great weekend, everyone!