Chienbäse – the Liestal fire parade

This year Fasnacht, or carnival, took place in Basel from 6-8 March. But before that, Liestal (the capital of Basel-Landschaft) kicked things off with their own event on the Sunday night – the Chienbäse. Bäse is Swiss German for Besen, meaning broom and the Chien part is apparently to do with the type of wood they use  – I’ve just looked it up and Chienholz is pinewood. So it basically means “Pinewood brooms”. What the name doesn’t tell you is that said brooms are set on fire and then paraded around the town of Liestal, which is mostly made up of wooden buildings! They even go through a wooden gate/archway, which the fire brigade sprays with water in between each group. Crazy!

There were extra trains from Basel that evening, so we set off on the 6:15 p.m. train along with a friend who moved to Basel in December and some other people we’ve got to know here. Liestal was already pretty crowded when we arrived, but we managed to find a nice spot before the aforementioned wooden gate. Most people wanted to be in the town proper, after the gate, but I actually preferred being somewhere where I could run away if anything went wrong! I’m not sure I would have liked being stuck in the narrow old-town streets…

We waited for what seemed like forever, then some musicians and a few “normal” Fasnacht floats went by. This was followed by another period of waiting and waiting and waiting, then we finally spotted flames coming down hill!

The broom carriers approached the gate and began to go through:

Even in the fourth row, the heat was intense. I can’t even imagine how the people actually carrying the fire must have felt!

More and more groups of broom carriers passed by where we were standing:

We spied some sausages attached to one of the “brooms” (really more like bundles of wood in a rough broomish shape):

I wonder if they ate them afterwards?

After a few groups of people carrying brooms, entire floats or carts of wood started to go by. The flames were pretty high and we wondered how they were ever going to get through the archway!

Once the parade was over, we lost half our group! The rest of us went looking for a Fasnacht cellar to go into (where the groups hold their meetings), but the only one we found was full so we had a beer at a restaurant then wandered around for a while before taking a train back to Basel. There, three of us went for a coffee while the other two went home, then Jan, our friend and I met up with our Finnish friend again and the four of proceeded to stay up all night waiting for Morgestraich… but that’s another story for another time.

The Chienbäse is a totally crazy event… not at all what I would expect from the Swiss, with their reputation of being sensible! There aren’t even any barriers between the crowd and the flames, and although the fire brigade is there to tell people to get back, the front row is much closer to the action than I expect would be allowed in England! If you’re not afraid of fire and you find yourself near Basel around Fasnacht I can definitely recommend going. Wear something non-flammable that you don’t mind getting smoked (you will stink of bonfire afterwards!), avoid taking very young children and have fun!

Some information for anyone who may want to go in the future: Fasnacht in Basel takes place on the Monday-Wednesday of the week after everywhere else has its Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)/Mardis Gras/Fat Tuesday/Fasching/Carnival (there are various possible explanations for this that I won’t go into right now), and the Chienbäse is on the Sunday night before the Monday of Fasnacht. The date for Chienbäse in 2018 is 18 February and in 2019 it’s on 10 March.

What do you think? Would you like to go to a fire parade?

 

Friday letters

The fact that it is Friday is so confusing to me this week! I had three more holiday days from last year that needed to be used before the end of the month and this week was Fasnacht (Basel carnival), so it seemed like a good time to take them, with the result that I went back to work yesterday and now it’s already Friday! While a two day working week is quite relaxing, it is apparently too much for my brain to take in… yesterday I spent 3 or 4 hours totally convinced it was Monday. Hmm. Oh well, on with the letters.

Mail box

Dear Fasnacht. So, you’re over for another year. As fun as you were, I must admit I will be glad to be able to go into town without being confetti bombed! (And to no longer constantly be hoovering said confetti up from my floor!)

Dear body. I do not understand how it took you a month to shed 1.5 kg and a mere three days to put every single gram of that back on. Fasnacht has a lot to answer for!

Dear Jillian Michaels DVD. I have big plans to get you out and start doing your workouts again. Unfortunately so far the project seems to have stopped at the planning stage 😉

Dear self. I know Goodreads is tempting, but you really do not need to be adding any more books to your wish list. Read the ones you’ve got on your shelves first!

Dear OU. It’s been a long time since I last tried one of your short courses. I hope I’m still disciplined enough to do the work! At least this is one I can do at my own pace – and I have a whole 6 months so that should be doable…

That’s all folks. Have a great weekend!

 

February photos

Happy March everyone! I can’t believe another month is over already. Today is Jan’s birthday, so tonight there shall be a nice meal and gifts 🙂

Last month I started a new series in which I wanted to share the photos I took throughout the month that didn’t warrant a blog post of their own. So, with another month now over, it’s time to share February’s photos.

Nobody needs this many (bad) photos of small birds but I just can’t resist their cuteness!

The snow returned (briefly) and I discovered once again that it’s really hard to take photos while snow is actually falling from the sky!

snow

The photo above was taken on a Friday morning. The sun came out in the afternoon and melted everything that had managed to settle… and would you believe the next day was bright sunshine and highs of 12°C? The weather has been so confusing lately!

I had a week off at the end of the month and on a particularly sunny day I went for a walk into town (and beyond). It was 22°C that day. In February! I mean, it was nearly March, but still… 22°C!

There were signs that spring was approaching! Can you spy the bee below?

I walked all the way to the Birsfelden hydroelectric plant, which means nothing to you so you’ll just have to trust me that it was a reasonably long walk 😉 2km further and I would have been in Germany, but instead I decided to cross the river and head back since it was getting on for 3 p.m. and I still had to cook tea.

Look how blue the water is? Aah, I love living here!

And, to finish off, a yummy treat! Jan and I finally made it to the chocolate café I’ve been saying I want to go to ever since we moved here. I don’t even care that I went way over my calorie limit for that day -it was so, so worth it! Chocolate heaven ❤

And that was my February in photos. Tomorrow there will be a proper February recap post – with less imagery and more words (the type that end with -ing 😉 )

January photos

Some bloggers write a weekly photo post sharing a photo for each day of the previous week. There’s no way I’m going to remember to take a photo every single day, but I do like the idea of sharing random photos that don’t fit into a whole blog post, so I’ve decided to just write a post at the end of each month where I can dump all the photos I took. Here’s January’s.

It snowed and actually settled enough to still be there at the weekend so I went for a walk and found this guy:

red-squirrel

I also tried to take photos of snowy Basel from on top of a hill, but didn’t do very well:

baselbasel-markthalle

A few days later it snowed again and someone came to visit our balcony:

robin

That was the best photo I managed to get before I was spotted…

I then went out for a walk during my lunch break and discovered it’s quite difficult to take good photos while the snow is actually in the process of falling!

Look how deep it was though:

dscn0151

Finally, after disappearing for a few weeks, birds started visiting our balcony again. Here’s one sitting in a tree, having just taken a seed from our feeder and flown away to a safe distance to eat it:

bird

And that’s about it for January. Snow and wildlife… that sums up my month pretty well, to be honest.

Friday letters

Friday has crept on me again this week… along with half of January. My dad’s, my sister’s and K’s birthdays have already been and gone. Just my grandma’s left now then I’ll have to start thinking about the February birthdays I need to make/buy things for. But first, what letters can I write to the universe this week?

Mail box

Dear birds. The lard ball we’ve hung out for you is exactly the same as the one you demolished within two weeks before Christmas, so I don’t understand why you’re shunning our balcony now? I’m sad to see my balcony so empty of little feathered friends.

Dear winter. Nice of you to actually show up this year . I’ve been waiting to see Basel in the snow since we got here (I mean, snow is kind of something I associate with Switzerland and we got basically none last winter…)

snow
How it looked here last week

Dear BBC. It’s exciting that you’re producing a TV series of Good Omens, but must it be a collaboration with Amazon Prime, of all things? There is no Amazon Switzerland, and therefore no Prime for those of us who live here 😦

Dear Dara Ó Briain. I am so excited to see you perform tomorrow night. Please be as funny as you usually are!

Dear Goodreads. Quit tempting me with your book recommendations! My wish list is already long enough to keep me busy for many, many years…

That’s all for today, folks. Happy weekend!

Photo an hour: 17 December 2016

Saturday was the final photo an hour of 2016, so obviously I had to join in. Some of you might have seen that I posted some of the photos on Twitter when I had a wifi connection, but for most of the time I was out and about with no Internet, so the majority of these are totally new. Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. A different start for a change – checking what’s in my advent calendar (don’t worry, the kettle was already on and tea was had shortly after!)

11:30 a.m. Time for a shower.

12:30 p.m. On the tram heading to the train station.

1:30 p.m. Just arrived in Laufenburg (clock as evidence that I took my photo on time 😉 )

2:30 p.m. Cherry mulled wine in the German town of Laufenburg

3:30 p.m. Back on the Swiss side of the river to catch a train home – the train you can see in the photo is the one we took.

4:30 p.m. After a quick stop in town to pick something up, we were waiting to catch another tram.

5:30 p.m. Home, taking advantage of the brief free time to make some more Christmas cards

6:30 p.m. Another card made up and ready to post.

7:30 p.m. Feuerzangenbowle at Basel Christmas market.

8:30 p.m. Meeting a friend for dinner.

9:30 p.m. In my 2016 recap, I said I was meeting friends for fondue. Since the person who suggested fondue was ill and the rest of us had eaten it recently, I went for something equally Swiss: raclette. Yes, that is pretty much a plate of cheese!

10:30 p.m. Heading home – the window display in the toy museum looked rather impressive!

11:30 p.m. We were in for the night, so that meant time for pyjamas and fluffy socks. I was in bed by midnight so this was the final photo of the day.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope it was lovely, whatever it was.

My 2016

I’m sure you’re all sick of recap posts, what with my monthly recent doings/participation in the what’s new with you? link up, but I always review my year and I’m not about to break tradition now 😉 If you really don’t care what I did this year, you might want to stop reading at this point…

January

We invited some friends from Karlsruhe down to spend New Year with us, so after a dinner of raclette (So. Much. Raclette) we headed down to the banks of the Rhine and, for the first time ever, saw in the New Year in the actual town that we were living in! I’m not sure whether people were scared of large gatherings after Paris or everybody always leaves Basel for the New Year, but either way there was plenty of space and we had an amazing view of the fireworks.

Our friends stayed until the 2nd, so New Year’s day saw us taking a walk around the local area with them and the 2nd became a museum day since it was chucking it down! We went to the Papiermühle (Paper Mill). The next day, Jan and I headed to Zurich for a Lego exhibition called The Art of the Brick – such a cultural weekend 😉

The reason we hadn’t spent Christmas in Germany (although it would technically have been my family’s “turn”) was because we planned to go over for my sister’s 30th birthday, on the 7th. I needed to present her with her birthday gift myself because it was awesome! After a few days there, we headed back to Switzerland and I finally went back to work on 12th January. This was also the month that we spontaneously decided to take a trip to New Zealand.. as you do.

At the end of the month, we saw Dylan Moran perform in Basel. He was very funny.

February

February is always such a dreary month, don’t you think? Spring isn’t in the air yet, but it’s been winter for so long that you start to feel it should be! Luckily the weather did brighten up at least once, an occasion we took advantage of for a trip to Arlesheim. We had a look in the cathedral and found two castles.

The people of Basel know how to deal with the dreariness of February! This month also saw us attending our first Fasnacht (Carnival), starting with the Morgestraich at 4 am! Our little town also had its own mini Fasnacht where I managed to collect a lot of sweets and, randomly, a sausage. Right at the end of the month we had some visitors, so we had a fun weekend of showing them around Basel.

February is also the month Jan and I got together, and in 2016 we celebrated 12 years as a couple!

March

Our visitors moved on to Lausanne and, since we hadn’t been there yet, we decided to join them for a day. It was raining when we arrived so we went to the Olympic Museum, then the sun came out and we had a look round the old town. Finally, the day ended with snow! Three seasons in  day… it was almost like being back in Britain!

We then didn’t do much until mid-month when it was off to New Zealand, baby! We had the most amazing time there, meeting up with my cousin in Devonport, exploring the south island (and finding Paradise), visiting my uncle in Rotorua where I met his little daughter for the first time and he took us to Hobbiton… every single minute was just magical! The best spontaneous decision ever.

April

After two weeks in New Zealand, April was a bit of a let down. We did at least manage to buy a wardrobe though (well, order one… we had to wait another 2 months for delivery!) and on the 26th it was exactly one year since I had moved to Switzerland. I only managed to take one trip all month… to a neighbouring town – Allschwil.

May

This was another slow month, although we did manage to go hiking on the 5th. The only other things I can remember doing in May are briefly visiting a street food festival and seeing a concert by the Philadelphia Philharmonic orchestra. I think I also read a lot?

June

There was some football thingy on in June, I believe? 😉 We didn’t actually watch much of the Euros this time and the few matches I did see were fairly boring, but it was impossible to avoid it entirely. I think we saw two Switzerland matches? We also finally received our wardrobe in June, although it wasn’t put up until July because one part was missing!

In terms of travel, at the beginning of the month, we had a weekend away in Graubünden, so that’s another canton we can cross off the list. We arrived before the hiking paths were officially open for the season but decided to brave the snowy trails anyways. The views were stunning but we didn’t make it to the source of the Rhine.

At the end of the month my mum and brother visited and I had a great time showing them around Basel. We also visited Zurich and the Rhine Falls – you can’t beat a good waterfall – and on another day took a walk from Mariastein Abbey to the ruins of Landskron Castle.

The UK’s EU referendum also happened in June, but we won’t talk about that…

July

Finally the missing piece of our wardrobe was delivered and the wardrobe was put together! As sad as it sounds, actually being able to put all my clothes away properly was one of the highlights of my year (apart from New Zealand, obviously. Nothing tops that). Jan’s mum and her partner came to visit near the end of the month and we climbed the tower in Basel cathedral, and on the very last day of the month we went for a hike around Delémont before watching the fireworks for Switzerland’s national day (actually on 1st August, but Basel is greedy and has fireworks twice).

We also went to see Travis perform  in Arlesheim during July – a blast from the past!

August

1st August is a holiday in Switzerland, but not in Germany so while Jan slept I had to work. *Sigh* Next year I’m seriously considering taking the day off!

The first event of the month was a wedding in Luxembourg. My former colleague, who is German, married a Hungarian so it was all very international! It was a beautiful day and a fantastic wedding.

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which was nice. No need to take time off! K came down for the weekend and we had a fabulous day in Bad Säckingen in Germany.

We continued the celebrations with cocktails that evening and a barbecue by the river the following day. Not too shabby!

I attended a jazz festival at the end of the month, but it wasn’t much fun by myself.

Apart from that, Jan and I swam in the Rhine a couple of times… because that’s what you do in Basel.

September

In September Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons hosted a Breat British Bake Off Bakealong and I took part a few times. I even experimented with making a toad in the hole with meatballs. This was also the month that my brother turned 10, my godson turned 4 and my sister got engaged! Lots of celebrations going on.

Jan’s dad visited us in September, which we didn’t think was ever actually going to happen! Every time we brought it up he had other plans, then he suddenly wrote to say “I’ll be there next weekend.” Umm, okay. Luckily we didn’t have plans 😉 After spending a day showing him round Basel, we took him to Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica. (He and Jan also to Rigi but we won’t discuss that since I had to work that day!)

I took the last week of September off work to use up some holiday and spent most of my time reading and cleaning. I did manage a walk in the woods and a visit to a castle ruin in between though. (Hmm, come to think of it I haven’t blogged about that castle yet…)

October

We started October with a trip to a pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg. I loved the food but thought last year’s sculptures were better.

I also started the month by falling over and hurting my knees, resulting in me spending the rest of the month hobbling around and having to visit doctors. Grr, so silly! Other October events included my other brother’s birthday (I made him a card), a training course on banking for work, and a visit from two friends who wanted to see Jan perform with one of his choirs. And, as you may have deduced from the previous sentence, October involved Jan performing with choirs… and accordingly Jan rehearsing with choirs so I didn’t see all that much of him.

November

Another month, another visitor 😉 No, not really, but it felt a bit like that this year. A friend from Karslruhe came for a weekend and we visited an art exhibition on Kandinsky, Marx and der blaue Reiter. (But of course you know that because I only just wrote about it).

Jan’s mum turned 60 in November and we took a trip up north(ish) for her birthday brunch then came back down and spent one weekend doing not very much (well, I spent it working on Christmas cards) before hosting more visitors the following weekend: my mum, brother and two of my mum’s friends. They got incredibly lucky with the weather and we had a really nice time looking around Basel and, of course, checking out the Christmas markets. Jan and I also went to see West Side Story while they were here (yes, I abandoned my guests but in my defence the tickets were a birthday present and I’d forgotten it was that weekend).

December

After so many busy weekends, the first weekend in December was a quiet one. I mainly cross stitched more Christmas cards and got the guest room ready because… the weekend after that we had more visitors. My sister and her fiancé this time. More showing people round Basel, more Christmas market. Lots of fun.

Also, something I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet because the next monthly recap won’t be happening until next month, while she was here my sister asked me to be her bridesmaid! So I have that honour to look forward to next year.

The rest of December hasn’t happened yet, but let me tell you about it anyway… this evening we are meeting some friends to eat cheese fondue before we all go our separate ways for Christmas. I will work for four days next week, then on Friday we will get on a plane at a ridiculously early hour and fly to England – we change in London this time and while we’re between flights I plan to track down a proper British sausage sandwich. Mmmm! Christmas will be spent with my family, the remainder of the time in England will be spent trying to catch up with as many friends as possible (remember, I haven’t been over since January!) and then, on 29th December, we shall catch a train to Glasgow and spend the rest of the year having K show us all the best places to eat up there. Oh, and at some point some bells will ring and we will welcome another year. Hopefully an awesome one!

Well, for some reason I thought 2016 had been slower than other years (apart from the crazy bit at the end with visitors, visitors and even more visitors), but looking at it all together like that, it has actually been jam-packed! New Zealand was definitely the highlight, of course, but there have been  a few other good times in there as well. And we actually travelled more than I thought we had, even if most of it was local.

Of course, other things have been happening, not all of which are suitable for the blog, and I am really hopefully that some plans will come to fruition in 2017. Fingers crossed!