Friday letters

Hello friends! (I hope none of you mind being called friends?). It’s finally Friday and I haven’t done Friday letters for a while, so I thought I would today. Here goes.

Friday letters

Dear Switzerland. A recent blog post by Kezzie and a slightly less recent one by Hazel have reminded my once again of how badly you need to up your recycling game. After being able to place basically all packaging in the recyclables bin in Germany I find it so frustrating to have to throw so much into the ordinary household waste here (and yes, I take my plastic bottles back to the supermarket but they won’t accept yoghurt pots or toothpaste tubes, for instance). Even Britain has recycling bins. Sort it out, Switzerland!

Dear unread books. I recently rearranged my shelves so that most of you are together and I hadn’t realised quite how many of you I own! I really need to start reading books I own before buying more…

unread books
I actually have more unread books than this, but I couldn’t fit any more on these shelves. Also, I excluded classics & non-fiction entirely since they have specific sections on my bookcases.

Dear water. Why is it so difficult to remember to drink enough of you? Must try harder!

Dear Basel cinemas. Why aren’t you showing the new Jumanji film in English? Just because it’s aimed at children doesn’t mean nobody wants to see it in the original language – do you know how many English-speaking children there are in the region?

Dear weekend. I’m glad you’re almost here. I’ve been very tired this week and I’m looking forward to a lie in!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for sorting out the dishwasher and not complaining (often) when I fail to put away my lunch dishes.

That’s all for today folks. Happy Friday, wherever you are.

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A Photo an Hour: 16 December 2017

Happy New Year friends! I hope you all had a good start to the year, whatever you were doing (I was in Geneva getting soaked – the heavens opened just before midnight!), and 2018 is an amazing one for every single one of you. Today I wanted to post my final photo an hour of 2017 before we get too far into January! I actually almost missed it, but luckily I was browsing through Twitter in the morning and saw other people doing it, so I waited until the next full hour and then started mine. As always, I am linking up with Louisa and Jane.

11 a.m. I had been awake for more than half an hour and hadn’t even had a cuppa yet, so clearly that had to be remedied…

12 noon. Cross stitching the last few Christmas cards for Jan’s family – none of which are actually pictured on this page of the magazine 😉

1 p.m. Showered and now getting dressed.

2 p.m. In town in the rain – I had gone to track down a last-minute Christmas gift.

3 p.m. Just managed to leap on a tram before it left. Phew!

4 p.m. Home, drying out with tea and candles.

5 p.m. Cross stitching away.

6 p.m. Still stitching… thus far it looks like nothing!

7 p.m. Emptying the dishwasher while “cooking” dinner. (Okay, the oven was doing the cooking…)

8 p.m. Jan put on “Being John Malkovich” while we ate.

9 p.m. Still watching. How messed up is this film?!

10 p.m. Film over, time for a hot chocolate. And when we switched the DVD off Home Alone 2 was on German TV.

I then went to bed before 11 p.m. to make sure I wouldn’t have to take another photo and mess up my symmetry 😉

The next Photo an Hour is on 20 January 2018. If you want to join in, all you have to do is take a photo every hour and then either upload them to Twitter or Instagram on the day using the #Photoanhour hashtag or save them and write a blog post like this one afterwards. Or you can do both (I usually take part on Twitter and then write a blog post later).

My 2017

Aah, 2017. This year has gone so fast that I don’t feel prepared at all, but honestly I’ll be glad to see the back of it. Between things going on at Jan’s company (which I can’t blog about), quite a bit of stress/overtime for me at work (which I occasionally allude to but won’t blog about in more detail because it’s never a good idea to say too much about work, even if what I have to say wouldn’t be in any way critical!), and some personal things (which I may one day blog about), this has been far from my favourite year. But enough about that, let me get on with my annual recap.

Usually I provide links to the posts about the events/travels in each month, but that won’t be happening so much this year… I’ve barely managed to post about any of them since about February. Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger! Oh well, at least that will hopefully mean some of them will be new to my readers and this recap will be less repetitive than previous ones 😉

January

We went to Glasgow for Hogmanay, together with our friend K, and saw in 2017 at the Ashton Lane Street Party. It had rained most of the day on the 31st but actually stopped in time for us to go out in the evening so we didn’t get soaked watching the fireworks. Yay!

Glasgow fireworks

The next day K showed us around Glasgow and we had a walk around the cemetery. (And there’s the first thing I failed to actually post about!)

Apart from that, we went back to Karlsruhe for a birthday party and I attempted to bake Bourbon Creams. They did not work particularly well. It also snowed in January. And on the 21st we went to see Dara Ó Briain perform – coincidentally almost exactly a year after we had seen Dylan Moran. That’s all I remember. It was a fairly quiet month.

February

An even quieter month. I am honestly having to wrack my brains to figure out whether we did anything! Jan and I got together in February, and in 2017 we celebrated our 13 year anniversary so there’s that. Our anniversary was on a Sunday so we couldn’t do much, but the day before we took a trip to Winterthur, near Zurich (another trip I have yet to post about…).

Winterthur Stadthaus

My work had an event for freelancers so I had to go into the office in Germany… on a Saturday, no less. I took the last week of the month off and had great intentions of cleaning and visiting nearby places, but I ended up doing nothing much. I did walk along the Rhine almost all the way to Germany on one of the days though. It was 22°C that day… in February! Crazy!

birsfelden-power-plant

We also ordered a chest of drawers and a Billy bookcase from IKEA. I bet you can barely contain your excitement now!

March

Jan’s birthday is in March but he’s boring and never wants to celebrate so we didn’t do anything. I cooked a slightly nicer than usual meal for him coming home from work and baked cupcakes.

Fasnacht was in March this year (it’s always in either February or March – the week after everyone else celebrates Carnival/Fasching/Pancake Day). This year we went to the fire parade in Liestal the night before the main celebrations started. It was awesome! If you ever find yourself in Basel at the right time, get ye there!

Chienbäse8

I had taken all three days of Fasnacht off, but it rained so much that I only actually went on the Tuesday!

We went to see the King’s Singers in March – the tickets were Jan’s Christmas gift – and also hosted visitors who came to see Jan perform with one of his choirs. Another friend also came to visit for no reason other than to see us. It was a pretty grey and cold day, but we went to a local animal park anyway.

fox

And that’s all I can think of for March, so on to the next month…

April

At the beginning of the month Jan was singing in Chur (the same concert I had already seen in March) and his hosts invited me down for the night, so we spent an afternoon exploring the town before taking a train back. Briefest trip ever!

Easter was in April this year, and we spent it in Berlin, visiting our friend K (the same one from New Year). Another trip I haven’t posted about. *Sigh*. It was very cold and essentially we spent time catching up and ate a lot. Two days summarised very briefly!

Brandenburg Gate

At the end of the month we had another visitor, because we had offered him a trip to a local art gallery as his birthday present. We did the gallery on the Sunday and went to Bern and Fribourg on the Saturday (luckily it was a photo an hour day so I actually have a post to link to!).

On the 26th, I had been living in Switzerland for precisely two years! Woo.

May

This month saw us take another trip to IKEA (we bought something for dirty laundry and a table that’s really a bench for our plants) and attended a concert that a doctor Jan once saw about some throat issues was performing in. Random! We also went to an exhibition about robots at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein (Germany). And on one of the many public holidays in May we went to Reinach where there is a fairytale sculpture path that I’ve failed to write about along with everything else I did this year!

Red Riding Hood

We went to see Ross Noble at the very end of May. He was funny, but far from the best comedian I’ve seen live. Sorry Ross, but my Northern patriotism doesn’t go that far…

Oh, apparently we went to Belfort (France) at the beginning of May. Yet another trip I haven’t posted about…

June

The first weekend in June was a long weekend (thank you Whit Monday!), so we decided to take advantage and go away somewhere. That somewhere ended up being the Champagne region in France so I could cross something off my 35 before 35 list (which I will definitely not be completing before my next birthday, but oh well!).

Moet-Chandon

In the middle of the month one of Jan’s choirs had a CD release party so I went along to that. It also happened to be Photo an Hour day, so at least I wasn’t just sitting around at home for once! We also saw the Swiss Youth Choir perform in June (Jan is in a choir with some of its members so he wanted to go along). What else? This post tells me the only time I swam in the Rhine this year was in June. After that it was either raining or we weren’t around.

July

Jan performed with the Basel Tattoo Choir in July so he was busy with that for pretty much the entire month. I went to a performance… on the one day of the whole week that it properly chucked it down, thunder and lightning and everything! It was still cool though.

And that is literally the only thing I can remember doing in July (other than reading and cross stitching, which don’t count for this recap). I seem to recall it being a busy month at work?

August

My birthday month! We celebrated by going to Solothurn then attempting to watch shooting stars in Spiez the day before and then going up Rigi on my actual birthday.

Jan’s mum and her partner were staying on Lake Constance during August, so we met up with them on one weekend, first we had a reunion with some family members and then drove down to Überlingen with them for a night.

Then, at the end of August, it was finally time for our summer holiday! We spent most of the time in Cornwall and the Lake District, with the bank holiday weekend at “home” in Northumberland where we attended a friend’s 30th birthday party. We also met up with the lovely Kezzie, which was fab!

Lands End

September

We started September still in the UK, driving from the Lake District to Falkirk on the 2nd, where we saw the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies and spent one night in an apartment before flying home from Edinburgh the next day.

Kelpies

Jan’s former choir had a performance in September, and as the trains were not going at that time we had to hire a car… so we decided to get it for the whole weekend. We went to IKEA (another bookcase, hoorah!), Castle Chillon on Lake Geneva and then, on the Sunday, Karlsruhe for the choir’s performance.

Chillon

Apart from that September was another busy month at work so I spent most of my free time cross stitching and attempting to catch up on sleep!

October

We’re getting close to the end now!

October and March are the months that Jan’s choirs have their performances, and this year was no exception. Once again I attended two performances (one of which fell on a Photo an Hour day), and we had visitors come to watch the one by the better choir.

As always, the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg was on from September to the first week of November, and in October we managed to make it there! (Another post I’ve been meaning to write…) This year’s theme was Romans. I found the sculptures better than last year but 2015’s “Flight” topic is still the best I’ve seen. (Post here for those that missed it back then)

Pumpkins2

Basel’s autumn fair happened in October and we very bravely tried eating insects!

November

I think I spent most of November making Christmas cards and buying gifts for my family (I had to have them all sorted by the beginning of December this year…). We certainly didn’t travel anywhere… and on one weekend I even agreed to work! We did have a trip to the theatre though, so that’s something.

December

A friend from uni came to visit for the first week in December and we took a trip to the Christmas markets in Freiburg, via a small village called Bad Bellingen, then went to see the Basel markets the next day. It was a lovely weekend filled with lots of Glühwein.

Freiburg Wihnachtsmarkt

The following weekend we were in England where I was a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. The day went amazingly, my sister looked gorgeous, my cousin did a fantastic job with my hair (plus the other bridesmaids’ and my mam’s) and a good time was had by all. I really enjoyed catching up with family. However, the 24 hours it took to get home after our first flight was delayed – causing us to miss our connection – I did not enjoy!

bride balloons

And that brings us pretty much to the present. Last weekend the shops were open on Sunday (a thing that is only allowed to happen a limited number of times per year) so Jan and I went to a shopping centre and did some last-minute gift buying.  On Tuesday we met up with friends here for pre-Christmas drinks (on a side note, at which point to you get to claim people are your “friends” rather than just people you hang out with sometimes?), and today is my final day at work for the year. As for the rest of December… we’re spending Christmas at home, just the two of us. On Boxing Day we will be visiting a cousin of my dad’s who lives not far from us (but in Germany having recently left Switzerland), Jan has to work on a few of the days between Christmas and New Year, and then we will be seeing out 2017 in Geneva.

And that was my year… from Glasgow to Geneva with a few stops in between. I didn’t think we had done much this year, but writing this post has reminded me of a few days out that I had entirely forgotten (Belfort was this year? Wow!). There were a few quieter months, but overall I can’t really complain that it was a boring year. For 2018 I am hoping for good news for Jan on the work front (above all that we get to actually stay where we are!) and generally a more settled year in that regard, with slightly less overtime for me, and hopefully also some answers on to other things as well. Bring it on 2018. I’m ready!

Friday letters

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well? I am tiiiired, which is partly my own fault for reading something on my phone in bed last night after turning the light out, but really I didn’t end up going to sleep that late. I think I’m just taking my time to recover from the wedding followed by a 24 hour odyssey to get back from England. I’m not as young as I used to be! Still having a slight cold probably isn’t helping either. It’s mostly gone now but my nose is still a bit blocked with what seems to be some kind of glue?!

Anyway, let’s have some letters shall we?

Friday letters

Dear sister. You made an absolutely stunning bride! If the rest of your marriage is half as amazing as the wedding I know you are going to have the most wonderful life.

Dear brother-in-law. Welcome to the family!

Dear extended family. It’s good to know you are as crazy as ever! I enjoyed being on the dance floor with you at the wedding.

Dear snow. I hear you were in Basel when I wasn’t. Please come back… I would much prefer you to all this rain!

Dear Swiss post. According to your website, I would have had to send Christmas cards to Europe yesterday for them to arrive in time. I’m hoping you’re just being very generous because the last of mine won’t be going out until this weekend!

Okay, that’s it from me. Time to do some work. Next week I’ve taken Friday off and then we’re closed for Christmas. YAY!

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!

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!