November 2019 recap

Well, that’s another month over. We’re only 20 days away from Christmas day now, which is quite honestly terrifying. I still have so much to get done! But today I’m here to link up with the lovely Kristen and talk about what I did in November.

whats new with you

Visitors and trips

I’m putting those two things in together for ease of… something.

On 1st November, I headed to Zurich to meet Jan after work. His sister had sent us a messaging saying someone she studied with had an art installation in a café in Zurich that was opening that day. So we went along, had a chat with the artist and admired the art (which was really interesting).

The next day, Jan’s former choir in Karlsruhe had a small performance in a jewellery shop. We discovered that, coincidentally, the youth choir of Baden-Württemberg was also performing an anniversary concert on the same day and a friend from back in student residence days was taking part, so we decided to go to Karlsruhe for the weekend and see both. That was a Saturday, so we arrived in time to see the former choir and have a quick chat with them, went for lunch with two other friends, then attended the anniversary concert in the evening before spending the night in a hotel. On the Sunday, we were invited to another friends’ place for breakfast then went for a walk with him, his wife and their baby before catching a train home.

I had planned to take some other trips during that week since I was off work, but it poured down most of the time so the furthest I made it was into town to do some shopping and grab a Cornish pasty from the autumn fair. Then on the 9th my cousin and her boyfriend came, and luckily the weather cleared up! The three of us spent their first afternoon here looking at an archaeological site and exploring the autumn fair, where we ate sausages and had a ride on the Ferris wheel (Jan was performing in a concert in Lucerne). The next day it was just the three of us again as Jan had a rehearsal with a different choir. We walked into town and then around Basel for hours before meeting Jan for a drink and, later, food. Then on the Monday we took a day trip – train up to Rigi Kulm, another train down the other side and then a boat to Lucerne. We’ve taken other guests on the same day trip but this was the first time I’d been up there and discovered snow. Unfortunately that was my last day off work, so they went to Colmar on their own on the Tuesday then when I finished work we met for a drink before coming home and ordering sushi from the delicious place nearby. They left on the Wednesday morning to head to Athens for a week and on the Thursday I went into the office so it was a very busy week!

The following Sunday (the 17th) we had another visitor. A friend and former colleague had been visiting someone in Zurich so she stopped by our place on the way back. Unfortunately the weather had returned to being icky (sleet when she first arrived, which quickly turned into extremely heavy rain), so after I gave her a tour of the new bathrooms and kitchen, we stayed home, chatted and drank tea. Jan had a choir rehearsal (of course…), so we headed into town at the time he said he would be done and met him for food at one of the few restaurants that’s actually open on Sundays. I had arranged to start work late on the Monday so my friend and I had a lovely breakfast together before she had to go and catch her train.

Reading

I was taking part in Believathon in November and I read a lot. After completing all the prompts and reading a few extra books, I decided to challenge myself to read an extra book for all 10 prompts. They were all children’s books so some of them were pretty short and most were fairly easy to read, but even so I read a lot. If you’ve seen part1 of my reading recap you’ll already have some idea of what I read… the rest will be coming soon. And if you want to know which book was my favourite of the month: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Watching

Still Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’ve finished Season 4 now. I don’t think there’s been anything else? Jan watched Back to the Future recently (I swear those films are never off the TV!) but I was busy doing housework and cooking so I didn’t pay attention.

Craft stuff/cross stitch

I’ve been very busy making Christmas cards for Post Pals, but the good news is more than half of them are done. I also stitched some designs for cards, including a birthday card for my cousin. I actually posted a Christmas card in November as well… as usual, my first Christmas card went to my uncle, father of the aforementioned cousin. Since I send their Christmas card in the same box as my cousin’s presents, her birthday is on 12th December and they live in New Zealand, I always have to get at least Christmas card sorted and sent very early. Here are some photos – both of these cards have already been posted, one to the US and one to New Zealand:

Miscellaneous/ general life stuff

– I booked flights for us to go to England for Christmas and for some reason they cost three times as much as usual this year! People keep telling me that’s why they always book early for Christmas, but 1) we’ve booked this late before, 2) we wanted to wait and see what happened on 31st October before booking anything and 3) I initially checked prices in August and they were just as bad then… I was actually hoping they might get cheaper, but alas no. Oh well, they’re booked now and my credit card is gently weeping. After booking them I put myself on a spending ban (apart from Christmas presents and things I *had* to spend money on like food, sending parcels to New Zealand and going to Germany for work).

– I don’t tend to talk too much about my family (or other people) on here because it seems unfair for me to be putting other people’s business out there on the Internet, but last year my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (which he has now been successfully treated for). He ended up having to go to hospital in October then again in November (for a separate issue), resulting in an MRI, bone scan and him being on painkillers – including liquid morphine – for basically all of November. Thankfully the bone scan showed no trace of cancer, but as you can imagine, it has not been the best time. Seriously universe, you can stop kicking everyone associated with me while we’re down now!

– Yet another friend told me she was 20 weeks pregnant a couple of weeks ago. She got married last year and they bought a house this year – and apparently also conceived a baby. I’m happy for her but sometimes I honestly feel like I’m jogging in place in front of a glass door while everyone else zooms past me (the door opens for them, of course). She’s the third person I know to have met, married and conceived a child with someone in the time since we moved to Basel (the other two children have already been born). Meanwhile the metaphorical door opened just enough for me to start thinking I could maybe squeeze through only to slam shut in my face again. (That’s a terrible metaphor but I’m going with it.)

– I haven’t been doing great at drinking enough water or eating enough vegetables recently. All the trying to be healthy stuff seemed to go out the window after our last IVF transfer failed. I really need to get better about that again. Especially the drinking water part – way too often I forget about it for the entire day then realise I’m thirsty before bed and end up downing a whole pint of water!

– I need someone to recommend a brand of anti-wrinkle cream and also under-eye cream that actually works! The lighting in our bathroom is almost too good and lately every time I go in there I’m shocked by how old I look. I’ve been trying to keep up a routine of day cream, night cream, eye cream, but I just have shops on cheap ones and I’m not sure they’re doing anything. I’m reluctant to shell out for other ones without know they’re going to do anything – those tiny pots are expensive! But I have a weird (irrational) fear that if we ever do actually conceive a child the other parents at school will mistake me for his or her grandmother instead of the mother. Before you all laugh at me please bear in mind that I’m 37 next year and could very easily be 40 before any of this actually works out. That will make me nearly 50 by the time my child is in full-time school – definitely old enough to be a grandma! Especially bearing in mind one of my grandma’s was 44 when I was born. Also, I know somebody this actually happened to, so maybe not that irrational! (Child born when she was 41, parents of other children at the nursery assumed she was the child’s grandmother.)

– Work has been busy again, but it’s mostly lots of jobs from one customer. I find that slightly concerning because what if they don’t renew their contract? Oh, and speaking of work, the new person who started in April passed his probation period so we are now permanently two full-time English translators (plus my other colleague who is part time). That makes it slightly easier for me to take time off at times that suit me without always having to defer to the person with children (new guy doesn’t have any).

Wow, I’ve done nothing but complain in this section. If you’ve read this far then I apologise – I’m aware that I have so much to be grateful for. Also sorry for the long post with not many pictures to break it up.

Anyway, I can’t remember anything else of significance that happened in November so I guess that’s it. I’m off work today because I have an appointment later and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, so not having to rush back and continue working afterwards makes things much less stressful – but that’s irrelevant to this post. Don’t forget to check out the link up and I shall hopefully chat to you all soon in the comments or wherever. Ciao!

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 Ottenhöfen 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.

One night on Arran

Before we headed to Glasgow for New Year, our friend K asked us whether we would like to spend a night at her mum and step-dad’s place on Arran. Having never been to Arran, we jumped at the chance. After taking a train to Glasgow, eating lunch at the train station there and then jumping on another train to Adrossan Harbour, we were finally on a ferry to the island. The sun was just starting to set as the ferry left. (The photos below were taken with sunset mode… it wasn’t actually that dark ;-))

I didn’t get any decent photos as we approached the shore, so I’ll just skip ahead a bit…

After a lovely evening with K’s family and a good night’s sleep, we were up bright and early so we could see something of the island before taking the ferry back across to the mainland. We went for a nice long walk with the dog. Check out the gorgeous scenery!

My camera couldn’t do it justice… in real life it’s even prettier!

After a lunch of pancakes, made by K’s lovely mum, we were dropped back off at the ferry port for the trip back over to the mainland (and on to Glasgow). Here are some photos from the ferry crossing:

In the interests of fairness, I should mention that the last set of photos was taken by Jan… I chose staying cosy inside the ferry over going out in the wind.

Arran is stunning and it’s a shame we only got to spend a short time there. I would definitely like to go back some time, preferably in summer when it stays light for longer in the evening.

Have you been to any Scottish islands? What did you think?

Spalentor, Basel

A couple of weekends ago, I had some friends from Karlsruhe visiting so we could celebrate my birthday and also have a mini flat-warming type thing. A couple of days before, I just happened to see on a Basel meetup group that on that very Saturday there was a “Tag der offenen Türme”, Day of Open Towers. In other words, the remaining towers of Basel’s old city walls were opening up for one day only (usually you can only look at them from the outside). Four towers in all were opening up, but that seemed like a bit much for one afternoon, so I decided it made most sense to aim for just one. I chose Spalentor because it’s the prettiest looking (from the outside, in my opinion) and also the closest to where we live. Also, it’s practically in the town centre so we could walk on to some other tourist sites after viewing the tower.

Spalentor
Spalentor

The week before had been cloudy and not all that warm, so I was relieved to see Saturday dawning with bright sunshine. Climbing a tower only to see clouds isn’t much fun!
Inside the tower, there were various interesting items of furniture on each level and also a fascinating little room!

Finally we reached the top and were able to look out over the roofs of Basel and the very pretty street that the tower/gate is located in.

Most of what we could see from the top of the tower wasn’t actually all that interesting so those are the only photos I took from up there. But it was interesting to actually go inside the tower that we’d driven past so many times while flat hunting. And I still think the outside is very pretty.

It seems the Tag der Stadttore (Day of the open city gates), to give it its official name, is an annual event, so maybe next year I’ll get to see the inside of another tower!

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase. Click the button to find out more!

My Travel Monkey

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!

Christmas preparation: Gifts

Rebecca over at Becster.com is doing a 12 Days of Christmas linkup, with a different theme every two days. I won’t be taking part every time (I don’t even have anything to say for some of the topics!), but I thought I might join in a couple of times.

The first prompt in the link up is Christmas presents, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to moan about how stressful all the buying/wrapping/posting of presents is! So far, I’ve managed to get one package of gifts to the post office and sent on its way to England. For a small fortune, I might add. I think I paid more to send the parcel than I did for all the items inside it! Currently, my spare room floor looks like this:

Christmas gifts

What you see here is part of my godson’s Christmas present (Lego Duplo!), gifts for various other friends’ children, part of my sister’s Christmas gift and some Lebkuchen that’s going to a friend. The book is for my sister as well, but for her birthday which is right after Christ,as. The drawer behind the pile is also full of gifts – these ones are currently living on the floor because the drawer is full! I’m hoping to get two more packages sent off this week, then I just have to work out what to get for the awkward people in my life (I swear my dad’s girlfriend is the most difficult person to buy for on the planet!). I think I can be forgiven for being a little complainy/stressed, don’t you?

If you want to join in with the link up, click the button below.

12 Days of Christmas - Becster.com Link Up!

A photo an hour: 11 October 2014

I feel like I only just did a photo an hour post, but the September one was, in fact, nearly a month ago and yesterday it was time for the October version.
I actually got up at 10:30, but again I wanted to take my photos at full hours, so my first one is from 11.

11 a.m. Making breakfast

Toaster

12 noon. Out of the shower and on my way to get dressed.

PJs

1 p.m. Off to the supermarket for a few bits.

Trolleys

2 p.m. I woke up with the urge to bake, so now I’m back from shopping that’s what I’m going to do.

Baking

3 p.m. The cookie dough is chilling in the fridge, so time for a bit of cross stitch (I should really have been doing the dishes at this point, but whatever).

Snow cross stitch

4 p.m. Just finished hoovering

Hoover

5 p.m. Making a couple of baked potatoes for Jan and I to eat.

Potatoes

6 p.m. Preparing some snacks for movie night – this will be sausage rolls.

Sausage rolls

7 p.m. Snacks and a film… now all we need is for our friends to show up. (The sausage rolls were still in the oven at this point).

Snacks

Aaaand after 7 p.m. I forgot to take any more photos. For the record, our friends showed up and we watched Zombieland followed by Dogma. All the food was devoured (apart from a few cookies that I had for breakfast this morning), everyone left at midnight and then I went to bed.

For more Photo an Hour posts, see Jane’s blog Is That You Darling. Next month’s Photo an Hour will be taking place on 8th November. If you would like to join in, make a note of it now 🙂