Autumn walk 2017

Around this time last year, I went for a walk along a stream near where I live. A year before that I had walked along the same stream and taken photos of the gorgeous autumn colours. It was only afterwards that I realised the photos had been taken on the same day. This year I wanted to take photos on the same day again, but unfortunately I misremembered the date and thought the others had been taken on 31st October. Actually, it was the 30th. Oh well…one day out is basically the same, right?

The trees have been weird this year with some of them changing from green to yellow then brown and finally losing most of their leaves all within a single weekend (a few weeks ago) while others are still looking very green even now. Two years ago I’m sure all the trees were red and yellow and orange at this stage? Anyway, here are some photos of this year’s autumn walk.

Leaving the house immediately proved worth it when I saw this guy mere minutes into my walk:

squirrel

As you can see, it was an absolutely glorious day for a walk. Hard to believe it had been freezing cold and rainy just two days earlier!

And finally, here’s a comparison of this year with the autumns of the past two years:

From left to right, the end of October 2015, 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately the photos weren’t taken in the exact same place/direction, but they are very close together and you definitely get an idea of how different the colours have been at the exact same time of year! I actually think last year was even greener… this year’s photo looks more yellow, while 2015 had all the orange. Now let’s hope we’re still here at this time next year so I can see what the colours are doing then!

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A Photo an Hour: 28 October 2017

After months of missing the reminders, on Saturday I finally managed to take part in Photo an Hour again. Hurrah! Here’s what I got up to:

10 a.m. I am awake… so obviously I need tea! (I am very predictable. One of these days I’m going to start reusing photos of tea and I bet nobody will even notice.)

11 a.m. Some Christmas card stitching… I’m way behind!

12 noon. I managed to shower between hours for once. Woo! Now clean and dressed in all the birds!

1 p.m. Back to stitching… wondering whether Jan ever plans to get out of bed!

2 p.m. The boy got up – hurrah! This calls for a celebratory cuppa 😉

3 p.m. Lunch! There was nothing in the fridge so I nipped to the shop for some juice and a sandwich.

4 p.m. And back to stitching… nearly finished 🙂

5 p.m. I lit a candle and made some apple and mint tea before I had to head out into the cold.

6 p.m. Off out to watch Jan sing (for the second weekend in a row) – I had to leave early because he forgot to buy me a ticket. A selfie was the best photo I could think of.

7 p.m. Terrible photo thanks to it being dark and my camera flash being broken – but when the door opens right as the clock is striking seven it has to be the subject of my 7 p.m. photo! Welcome to Switzerland 😉

I missed 8 p.m. because it was during the concert so…

9 p.m. A quick snap of the stage before I left the church (St Martin’s, in case you’re wondering). We then went to eat with some other members of the choir after the concert so I missed 10 p.m. as well since I didn’t want to be rude. At least this way symmetry was preserved 😉

11 p.m. A glass of water before bed.

And that was my Saturday. How was yours? Good I hope!

Linking up with Louisa and Jane, of course.

Friday letters

Hello everyone! Now I’ve posted once this week, I thought I should at least try to keep up. So Friday letters it is. Let’s get straight to it, shall we?

Friday letters

Dear boyfriend. If you’re going to wake me up snoring/grinding your teeth does is really have to be within 2 hours of the alarm going off so I’m pretty much guaranteed not to get any more proper sleep before starting the day? After two days in a row of that I am tiiiired today!

Dear biscuits. I should not have bought you. Once I start tucking in it’s soo hard to stop!

Dear autumn. Well, it looks like you are truly here now with all your cold, wet miserableness.
As an aside, do any other Brits remember singing a little verse in school that went “Here comes autumn, bringing the mists and rain“? I’m sure that’s why I associate autumn with cold and dark and soggy, slippery leaves rather than the gorgeous colours, long walks and crisp leaves everyone else goes on about. Or maybe it’s just that Britain really is miserable in autumn? 😉

Dear post person. I am not impressed that you sent my order back to the sender claiming that I had failed to pick it up from the post office. I requested for a second delivery of everything I had a note for, so that means there was no note for this one!

Dear flat. You’re actually still looking half decent right now after we cleaned for visitors last weekend. I wonder how long we can keep it up?

Dear birds. I’m guessing by constantly coming and perching on the empty bird feeder you’re trying to tell me something? It’s getting colder now so I’ll buy you some lard balls soon.

Dear kettle. I’m sorry I keep boiling you so many times before I actually manage to make a cup of tea. Please don’t decide you’re overworked and go on strike – and I promise to try and actually make my cuppa the first time!

Dear autumn fair. It looks like it’s going to be cold for your opening day tomorrow but the forecast is currently not saying rain. Maybe I’ll consider popping by for the first Glühwein of the season.

Dear readers. Thank you for sticking around even when I fail to post for weeks on end or don’t even have anything interesting to say. I appreciate every single one of your comments.

And on that soppy note, I shall stop typing and brave the rain so I can get something to eat. This is supposed to be my lunch break, after all and my fridge is looking rather uninspiring. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Expat Qs

Has it really been an entire two weeks since my last post? Wow… sorry. I didn’t mean to stay away that long. I am juggling so many things right now and blogging keeps getting pushed further down my list.
Anywaaay… I stole this post from Kristen because I thought it might be fun and an easy way to get back into blogging. I hate being called an expat (please don’t single me out from other “migrants”!) but didn’t have an alternative title, so it stays.

1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I was born in Aldershot (“Home of the British Army”) and I guess grew up there, in Northern Ireland and in Northumberland – although, when does the “growing up” stage finish? I was a teenager by the time I moved up North…
I currently live just outside Basel in Switzerland.

Basel
Basel town hall

 

2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY

Originally university. I was studying German and a year in a German-speaking country was a requirement to get my degree. I met Jan there, and after 2 years in a long-distance relationship decided to move back to Germany. Such a cliché.

3. WHAT TYPE OF REACTIONS DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU ARE FROM?

It varies. “What brought you to Switzerland?” mainly. A lot of people ask whether I work at Roche or Novartis (two pharmaceutical companies that are the main employers in Basel, particularly of “expats” – ugh, that word again).  When I lived in Germany I occasionally got “Do you really put vinegar on your chips?”, and people would ask why Karlsruhe of all places (I guess most Brits go to Berlin or Munich).

4. WHAT WAS THE EASIEST/HARDEST PART IN ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

To Switzerland? It wasn’t actually that hard because I’d been in Germany for over 8 years and Basel at least is quite similar to Germany in many ways. So I guess that was the easiest part? Going back to not understanding people was difficult – Swiss German is hard! Just yesterday a neighbour came and spoke to me while I was doing laundry and I only understood about half of what he said.

5. IMAGES, WORDS OR SOUNDS THAT SUM UP THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.

Are we talking my entire expat experience? As in Austria, Germany and Switzerland? Because that’s a lot! But as Kristen said, my life here is just life. I work, I shop, I cook, I do laundry just as I would anywhere else. I guess regularly speaking two languages is different, and we eat food that isn’t available in England (and, conversely, don’t eat other food because it isn’t available here). So I guess speaking German and food are my  words? Here’s an image that seems to fit:

fondue

6. YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD OR DRINK ITEM IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY

Oh wow, that’s difficult. Maybe Rösti? Although I rarely eat it because I’m too lazy to make my own 😉 For drink I guess some local beer? I can’t think of anything else that isn’t available elsewhere… oh, except some fizzy pops like “Rivella” and “Flauder” (I do like that second one) but I rarely drink pop soo…

7. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU SAID “YES” TO IN YOUR NEW CITY THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY “YES” TO, BACK HOME?

Umm… I have no idea? I probably wouldn’t have gone hiking at home but only because I would never have had Jan to drag me out 😉

8. ARE THERE ANY CULTURAL NORMS/PHRASES IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY WHICH YOU CANNOT STAND?

Quiet hours! In Switzerland, the law states that from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. plus all day on Sundays and public holidays are “quiet hours”. During those times you are not allowed to do anything that makes a noise… so no hammering/drilling, no hoovering (vacuuming ;-)), no doing laundry, no mowing the lawn, no playing instruments. And, of course, no using the glass recycling bins. In our building, you are actually not supposed to drill/hammer after 6 p.m. and hoovering and instruments are banned after 8 p.m. (Drums are banned at every time unless in a sound-proofed room). I understand the night-time quiet rules – those with kids especially probably appreciate it being quiet when they’re sleeping – BUT WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO DO MY HOUSEWORK?! The lack of recycling annoys me as well, especially coming from Germany where practically everything gets recycled! Ooh, and I hate that practically everything is closed on Sundays. I mean, I’m used to shops being closed on Sundays after Germany, but finding a café or restaurant that’s open should not be as difficult as it is! As for phrases… I guess that question assumes I live in an English-speaking country?

9. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST DOING IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

I enjoy going down to the river and just sitting… I love having the river flow right through town. But that’s a Basel thing, not a Switzerland thing. I also enjoying travelling and exploring Switzerland, but I also did that in Germany and would do it even if I lived in England. Umm, does that answer the question in any way?

basel-rhine

10. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER MOVE HOME FOR GOOD?

Nope. A few years ago it might have been a possibility, but after Brexit no way. Why would I want to live in a country where half the population have said my partner is not welcome? And by extension my future kids who will be way more German than British. Of course, Brexit may end up being the reason I am forced to move home if the “hard-Brexit” brigade gets their way…

That was the last question, but I hate to end on a bad note so I would like to add that I love living here and it feels like home more than any place has ever felt like home in my life (I mean, Karlsruhe felt like in the last few years there – and is still the place I’ve lived the longest in one stretch ever – but I felt an instant connection with Basel that made me wonder what I ever saw in Karlsruhe). It’s only been 2 and a half years though, so who knows what the future will hold…

Shooting stars for 34 years of me!

As you may or may not have noticed, it was my birthday on Sunday. I’m now 34 – less than a year until I have to tick the next category in age ranges (why is it always 35 to something) and less than a year left for my 35 before 35. Eeep. Obviously, 34 doesn’t feel too different so far. Obviously I am another year older, but at this point I’m also only 4 days older than I was before my birthday…

Part of my gift from Jan was a trip to look for shooting stars. As you may know, the Perseids is a meteor shower that takes place every year from around mid-July, peaking between the 12th and 14th of August… i.e. right around my birthday. Since it was cloudy in Basel on the 12th, we had to go hunting for them elsewhere. So Jan hired a car, which he eventually managed to pick up in the afternoon after some mix up about where it was. Since it was still light, we went to Solothurn first, where we were just in time to climb the tower of the Baseltor before it closed.

Back down on the ground, we took a walk through Solothurn and then went for dinner (I had tuna steak. It was delicious). Then I decided since it was my last meal as a 33 year old I deserved dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yum! I didn’t take any photos of the food, but here’s one of the restaurant we ate at:

Brasserie Federal_Solothurn
Brasserie Federal, Solothurn

After dinner, we got back in the car and drove in a generally south-ish direction, hoping to find somewhere less cloudy. We eventually got to Bern, where we checked the cloud radar and decided to move further south. We eventually ended up in Spiez, which is where we got out of the car. First we went down to the lakeside (Lake Thun for those who are interested) and then we headed up to a castle on a hill so that we could see more of the sky at once. I still only managed to spot a grand total of three shooting stars the entire time we were there, but we did see a bat, which is always cool. Midnight struck while we were by the castle, but unfortunately no meteorite showed itself to wish me a happy birthday 😉 From what I could see, Spiez looked like a nice place. We’ll have to go when it’s light some time. Here’s the castle and a church that was opposite it – I thought the moon beside it (half hidden behind a cloud) looked cool.

It was 2 a.m. by the time we got home, so all I did was go to bed, leaving my cards for the morning.

Such a beautiful place to see in my 34th birthday. Once again, I’m so glad we took the chance and moved to Switzerland.

Recent doings #20

I’m sure you’re sick of me saying it every month, but how is it August already? Ten days until my birthday… I’m so not ready to be 34! I am, however, ready for a holiday. 15 days until we fly. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Right now, though, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch to talk about all the things I’ve been doing in July.

whats-new

Eating. I started the month continuing June’s theme of salads and ice cream, but then the weather got bad plus Jan was performing with the Basel Tattoo choir every evening so for the last half of July I just ate whatever could be made quickly and easily. Fish fingers featured a few times. And sandwiches.

Watching. The Coroner on BBC Entertainment. It seems to be over now though – when I tried to put it on last night Hustle was on instead. Also fireworks over the Rhine for Switzerland’s national day (which is actually on 1st August, but Basel is greedy and does fireworks twice, so the ones on the day before just about manage to sneak in to my July round-up ;-)).

Reading. I actually had a good reading month for a change and managed to read 14 books! Ten were for Erin’s challenge. I will tell you about the in detail next week.

Seeing/hearing. The Basel Tattoo! Since Jan was part of it, I got tickets for one of the performances. It was very cool and I would definitely go again.

Cross stitching. Birthday cards galore! I wanted to get all the Post Pals birthday cards for August finished and sent out before I go away (and of course I also stitched the July ones), plus my friend turned 30 so I made her a card as well.

mermaid birthday card

Booking. Our flight back from the UK and accommodation in Cornwall. And Jan has now booked the remaining accommodation so we’re all sorted. Woo!

Buying. It would probably be easier to say what I haven’t been buying to be honest! I spent way too much money in July. I definitely bought books, stickers and a load of badges/pins to send to Post Pals kids (they have all been given lanyards to collect them). I can’t even remember what else. Oh, birthday gifts for my mum and my friend, of course.

Wishing. Work would slow down a bit. I mean, having lots of work is better than sitting around doing nothing and I do appreciate being kept busy, but I am exhausted right now.

That’s all for today. All that aforementioned work awaits (and today I have to work longer again to make up for the fact that I’m in the office tomorrow and won’t actually arrive there until 10 a.m.).

What have you been doing recently? Don’t forget to check out the link up to find out what’s new with everyone else!

Book challenge by Erin 7.0: Bonus round

Somehow I managed to be the first to finish round 1 of Erin’s reading challenge, so I’ve been waiting more or less patiently for half of July to be able to start the bonus round. Finally August has arrived and I can reveal what I will be reading for the rest of the summer.

BCBE7

For each of these categories, I get an extra 5 points if the book I read was previously chosen (and 5 of the books must have been previously chosen anyway), so I spent most of today going through all the books that had been used for the first round and trying to find ones that I either already own or can buy from Amazon at a reasonable price. Now I think I’ve managed to put together a list that consists only of previously chosen books  🙂 (Fellow participants… please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

So without further ado, here is my bonus round list:

10 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The person who chose this in the first round had it as a book with a mostly yellow cover, but my copy is the same as the one in the link and it’s orange, not yellow, so freebie it is. I need to read this book anyway for my BBC Big Read challenge.

15 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “B”

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. Before I discovered Goodreads, I had a physical handwritten list of books I wanted to read. This one was on that list, so it’s probably about time I actually read it!

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) yellow cover

I have ordered a copy of Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, so hopefully when it turns up the cover will actually be yellow.

20 points: Read a book that has a picture of an animal on the cover

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith looked really interesting. There seem to be a few editions, so hopefully the copy I’ve ordered will turn out to actually have a dog on the cover!

25 points: Read a book that was published in 2017

Every time I log on to Goodreads someone else seems to have reviewed One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus and every time I see it my brain starts playing the ABBA song! Please tell me I’m not the only one? Anyway, the concept sounds really interesting and I’m excited to read this one.

25 points: Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title

I’m sure I saw East of Eden by John Steinbeck in the Goodreads group for the challenge? This is another one that I have to read for the BBC Big Read, and if I failt to complete the bonus round I have a feeling it will be because of this book.

30 points: Read a book from this list of the most commonly banned books in America: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_commonly_challenged_books_in_the_United_States

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes. Somehow I’ve never come across this book before, but it sounds like something I will like.

35 points: Read a fictional book about mental illness

I recently bought Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk without even realising it would qualify for this category. Now I don’t have to wait until the challenge is over to read it. Yay!

35 points: Read a book with a non-human main character; i.e. animals, elves, gods, robots, merpeople, etc.

We’ve had American Gods by Neil Gaiman sitting on our bookcase for far too long! Usually it would be something I would read with Jan, but we have loads of books to read and no time to read them together, so I’ll just have to go it along with this one.

40 points: Read a book a Disney movie was based on OR a book based on a Disney movie

(Ha, my British English spell-checker doesn’t recognise movie as a word!)
I really wanted to read The Fox and the Hound for this category, but both Amazon Germany and Amazon UK are only selling it as either a Kindle edition (“not available in your country”) or a really, really expensive hardcover… and I am not paying over 100 euros for a book! So I’ve chosen A Whole New World by Liz Braswell purely because it was cheaper than As Old As Time 😉

And those are my choices for the bonus round. Who else is playing? Show me your list!

And while I’m here, have a photo of last night’s fireworks over the Rhine as a reward for getting this far 😉 Today is Switzerland’s national holiday so happy birthday Switzerland!

Swiss national holiday