June 2020 recap

Happy July friends! We’ve actually made it through half of this messed up, unpredictable year. As always on the first Thursday of the month, I’m linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You.

Honestly, June wasn’t the best for me for reasons that I will not go into now. Maybe one day. Also, my mum was supposed to visit but obviously couldn’t so I have no idea when I will see her (or any of my family) again.

But anyway, what did I actually do in June?

I made cards for two friends who had babies 15 days apart. One boy, one girl. The second child for each of them.

I’ve blurred out the name on the second card. Even if none of you know who my friend is, there’s no need for her daughter’s name to appear on my blog. (If you can actually manage to read it despite the blurring, please keep it to yourself.)

Switzerland relaxed the rules a lot more. Basically everything is open now. The border with Germany opened again on the 15th, but I haven’t actually been into the office yet. Jan went into his office once because he had to pick something up, then he went for lunch with some colleagues (keeping the appropriate distance apart) including someone who is relatively new, as in started working there during lockdown, so he thought it would be nice for her to actually meet some people in person. I haven’t actually been to any shops yet (other than supermarkets/pharmacies) but we did pick up take away sushi from a local place that doesn’t do delivery. Theoretically, events with up to 1,000 participants are allowed now, but I don’t expect there to actually be any since as far as I know everything that was originally going to be in July or August has already been pushed back to the autumn or next year.

We walked into town a couple of times, avoiding people as best as possible. On one of those walks, we had a drink by the river – staying on “our” side because the other side was packed! Some people seem to think this whole thing is over – and yes, Switzerland is doing pretty well, but at the end of last week there were 69 daily cases compared to just 18 at the beginning of the week, so even here where numbers are low we’re far from out of the woods!

Jan went to his first choir practice since the beginning of March! He says they put the chairs an appropriate distance apart and not many people were actually there anyway. Their next practice will be in August, provided Switzerland doesn’t end up having to restrict things again by then…

I finished 17 books. You will find out what they were on on Show Us Your Books day. There were a few I really enjoyed but only one I gave five stars, which happened to be the very last one I read in June: With the Fire on High.

That’s it I think. I don’t have anything else to tell you. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Don’t forget to check out the link up. And tell me what’s new with you.

May 2020 recap

whats new with you

So another month is over. I can’t say another month of (semi-)lockdown because at this point we’re barely even in lockdown any more. The government still keeps asking us to stay home and for those who can work from home to continue doing so but kindergartens and primary schools, all shops, restaurants, museums and galleries (but not zoos or botanical gardens) opened again on 11 May. The shops have to limit the numbers of people allowed in at one time and restaurants are only allowed four people to a table (exception: parents with 3+ children) so it’s not entirely back to normal but not really any sort of lockdown either. Masks are “recommended” if you can’t keep 2 metres apart but are only mandatory at hairdressers, massage parlours, physiotherapists, etc. Not on public transport. For me, not much has changed though. I don’t feel the need to go in any shops even if the government says it’s okay. So I am continuing to only enter supermarkets and pharmacies – I don’t need new clothes or electronics! And I can’t go into the office (yet) since the border hasn’t reopened. A few of my colleagues have been going in occasionally though, only ever a few at a time so there’s never more than one person working in a room.

One place I did go was the dentist  – for an appointment that was originally supposed to be in March! I had to get a filling and also have my teeth cleaned. It was my first visit to the dentist since moving to Switzerland and the dental assistant (hygienist? technician? What are the ones who clean your teeth called?) wasn’t satisfied so she made me come back 2 weeks later for her to finish the cleaning. Yes, it’s shameful. Consider this me outing myself publicly. The filling wasn’t my fault though – I have two teeth that overlap and even the dentist said it’s really difficult to properly get in there and make sure the surfaces are properly clean.

I finally managed to buy yeast – after trying for 3 weeks! I originally wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter, but figured that ship had sailed, so we made Zopf – a kind of Swiss bread that’s plaited/braided.

We also made Capuns, which are a speciality of Graubünden and involve wrapping a dough/meat mixture in chard leaves then cooking them in a creamy/cheesy sauce. The first time we only had spinach, which worked out well but was so fiddly and took forever. We then tried again actually using chard and it was much easier (but still took a while). The end result was worth the wait though! Two Swiss things… am I integrated now? 😉

Speaking of being integrated, I received my new residence permit – slightly belatedly. I am officially allowed to stay for another 5 years, no matter what happens with Brexit. Hurrah! (I still don’t know whether I’ll be allowed to continue working in Germany after the transition period, but details…).

Apart from that we are continuing to go for walks. We decided to walk into town once (the Saturday before the shops/restaurants were allowed to reopen) to see what it was like and decided we won’t be doing that again any time soon. There were so many people walking by the Rhine without even considering social distancing! Plus joggers, cyclists. Nope… I’ll stick with my walks here in the “countryside”. We also got a car a couple of times and went for a drive, once to a village that’s famous for its stork colony (we saw baby storks!) And once to where some friends (a couple) are staying with his family. We met up and went for a walk in the woods, staying 2 metres apart at all times. This has been allowed in Switzerland from the beginning by the way – the rule was you could meet up outside in a group of up to 5 people, but at the same time they asked us to please stay home whenever possible. We hadn’t met up with anyone until now but with the relaxing of regulations and new cases in Switzerland having stayed consistently under 100 per day for a while now (actually mostly under 40) we decided it would be okay, especially since we know they’ve been isolating and we stayed further away from them than a lot of people bother to do in supermarkets!

We also had an electrician come by last week to look at a light in our corridor that hasn’t worked since the renovation last year. Something had changed and we couldn’t figure out how to make both lights work again. We all wore masks and we even provided hand disinfectant for him to use. And now we have two working lights in the corridor again and the useless dimmer switch that somebody installed in probably the 90s has gone so we can actually use both switches! Also, we supported a local tradesman so yay.

I attempted to dye my hair, but as I mentioned in my latest Style Imitating Art post, it didn’t work out as planned.

On Saturday we walked to the zero-waste/refill supermarket close to the train station and bought some bits  – mainly washing powder, shower gel, shampoo, washing up liquid. Not much food since we still have loads of rice and couscous from a previous trip. We took the tram back since the bags were heavy and the first one was totally full. It’s like lockdown/social distancing never happened! The tram we changed onto was fairly empty, but that’s normal. Not as many people come out to where we live.

I took part in the second Believathon and had lots of fun following the map and reading children’s books for two weeks. I finally read The Neverending Story! You’ll have to wait for Show Us Your Books day to find out my thoughts.

Believathon-tbr

That’s all I’ve got for you. We’re continuing to stay home as much as possible so there isn’t really anything exciting to report. But we’re plodding along and managing not to get on each other’s nerves so far 😉 I hope you’re all doing well and staying happy and healthy!

Don’t forget to go on over the Kristen‘s blog to say hi and check out the link up.

p.s. I’m aware I haven’t addressed everything that’s going on in the world, and particularly the US. I am horrified by the images I see on TV. I have shared things on Twitter and signed various petitions, but beyond that I don’t know what to say. While not racist, I am far from perfect, and I know I have a lot of learning/reading to do. I am also very aware of my own privilege – especially as someone living abroad who has always been accepted without question because I am white and British. Even to the extent of being asked why I wanted to live in a certain part of town in Germany when “that’s where all the foreigners live”. Please don’t think I’m ignorant for continuing to post as normal.

February 2020 recap

Hello friends. Post from me two days in a row? You lucky, lucky people! (Ha, I kid… obviously). I had to post today because it’s the first Thursday of the month and I need to link up with one of my favourite bloggers… the wonderful Kristen. She is awesome and you should really go over there and say hi.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I did last month, shall we?

whats new with you

Travel

Yes, we actually went places in February. Are you impressed? First, we went to Baden for an afternoon, which was the weekend after our anniversary so I called it our anniversary celebration (oh yeah… Jan and I have been together 16 years as of 5th February. We did not celebrate on the day though. Actually, Jan forgot that it was the 5th until I gave him a card/gift in the evening soo…). Baden is a spa town – the name means Bath – and we took towels, etc. thinking we might visit one of the thermal baths but that whole area of town was being renovated! We did get to out our feet in a hot pool near the river though. It’s a cute little town sandwiched between hills, with a great view of snow-capped mountains.

Then those of you that saw my photo an hour post will know we went to St Gallen for a weekend. We had been there before, when I was living in Austria, but I remembered absolutely nothing of what we saw that time and walking around the town nothing looked at all familiar so who knows what we even did that first time? We briefly saw the old town on the Saturday before it got dark, then on the Sunday we went for a walk up a hill (and saw more mountains in the distance) before visiting Rorschach, which is on Lake Constance. Sadly, after a beautiful day on the Saturday while we were mostly on the train, Sunday ended up being warm but clody. Oh well, you can’t have everything and it was nice to get away.

St GallenSt Gallen mountain view

Reading

I posted the first half of my reading round-up yesterday, so if you’re really interested you can have a look at that. Part 2 will be coming soon, but I can tell you know that there was quite a mixture – thrillers, non-fiction, children’s books. Wait and see 😉

Watching

We finished watching Good Omens and it was awesome. So well done! Which honestly was to be expected after the amount of effort Neil Gaiman put into it. Now I’m sad that it’s over. We also watched Edward Scissorhands because Jan randomly found it and I ended up waiting until it finished before going shopping. I don’t know if I watched anything else… Jan is always finding random things that I mostly ignore. If it’s a film I will sometimes watch, but now I can’t remember if they were in February or it was already March!

Craft stuff

I’ve been doing quite a bit of stitching again. Two birthday cards for friends’ children and a new baby card for a baby boy who is due in April – although so far it’s just the stitching, I haven’t made it into a card yet. I also made Valentine’s cards for a few Post Pals children because I had heart shaped cutting dies I wanted to try out. I only remembered to take a photo of one though!

Other/miscellaneous

– There’s not much else to say to be honest. At the beginning of the month I went to the doctor with acid reflux/heartburn and stomach pain. I was diagnosed with gastritis, most likely caused by stress and given proton pump inhibitors to take for 2 weeks. When I told Jan he said I didn’t have much stress… I’m very glad to hear that IVF and infertility are entirely unstressful for him! Needless to say he was soon put right 😉 I also pointed out that on top of the fact that failing to conceive is generally a source of stress (for people who aren’t him, at least!), I had two procedures involving my uterus in January, neither of which was pleasant (although I was admittedly anaesthetised for one of them). He conceded that okay, maybe trying to juggle constant doctor’s appointments around work without anyone getting suspicious, being on hormones for months at a time, etc. is possibly at least a little stressful! Phew, way too many brackets there. Anyway… I took the tablets and things seem to be better now, at least for the time being.

– Work was pretty slow for most of the month. I actually got a few large jobs in the last week of February that were just about enough to fill my time, but the other full-time English translator had very little to do. I honestly prefer being overworked to underworked… an empty plan makes me nervous! Hopefully things will pick up again.

– I’ve been pretty consistently using a eye cream that I got for Christmas and so far I haven’t noticed any difference… the lines are there, just as deep as ever. At least they’re not getting worse, I guess? If you’re reading this and you’re in your late twenties to early thirties, please start using cream under your eyes now. Trust me, you will thank me when you don’t wake up one day in your mid-30s and realise you look old!

– The decluttering continues. I put out another box of things with “free” written on it, including two candle holders that I never particularly liked. They were in there for ages after everything else had gone (although someone took the scented candles I had left inside them!) but eventually both the box and the candle holders disappeared… so now I’m not sure whether anyone actually took them to keep or just binned them, and I’ve also lost the box that I use to put things I want to give away outside. I checked afterwards and it wasn’t with all the paper that was waiting for collection (last Friday was paper day) so I don’t know where it is! Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have plenty of empty boxes.

Okay, this is beginning to get boring. You don’t want to know about my crow’s feet and attempts to rid myself of stuff! I thought I would have a lot to say this month but apparently I did less than I thought. Saw a little of Switzerland. Read a lot of books. A fairly standard month really.

What did you all get up to in February? Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to check out the link up!

Photo an hour: Saturday 15 February 2020

Hello friends! I’m posting this photo an hour round-up extremely late because I actually forgot I had done it. So that’s a thing. As always, this link up was hosted by Jane and Louisa and I originally took part on Twitter.

Here’s how my day went:

10 a.m. Gotta start the day with a cuppa!

11 a.m. Heading for a shower since we were supposed to be going out for the day.

12 noon Showered, dressed, now brushing my teeth.

1 p.m. Since Jan only got up at 12:30, we spontaneously decided to add on overnight stay to our strip. While he booked a hotel, I thre a few things in a suitcase.

2 p.m. Just hanging around, waiting for the boyfriend to be ready. Boring black tights today.

3 p.m. On a train with my book.

4 p.m. Still on the train, waiting to leave Zurich.

5 p.m. Another station… Uzwil apparently.

6 p.m. Made it to St Gallen – yay! Quick walk around the old town before it gets completely dark.

7 p.m. Dinner at the hotel was yummy.

8 p.m. Decided to have a beer – my first in probably a month. I’m not really drinking this year.

9 p.m. In the hotel room, looking at accommodation for our next trip!

10 p.m. Still discussing hotels in Poland.

11 p.m. Time for bed!

I won’t ask you how your day went since it was ages ago. But I will point out that the next photo an hour date is 21st March, in case you want to join in. Post a photo every hour on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #photoanhour or save up all your photos and write a blog post. It’s fun!

A Photo an Hour: 18 January 2020

Hello friends! As you can see by the fact that I’m posting this over two weeks after photo an hour day, reality has my firmly back in its grip. The time between finishing work and having to go to bed seems to go by in a flash, and honestly I just don’t want to go straight from working on the computer all day to typing up blog posts in the evening. I actually intended to post this on Sunday but the computer decided to be a pain. So I’m doing it now. Better late than never, right?

As always, Photo an Hour was hosted by Louisa and Jane.

10 a.m. It might be a new decade, but some things never change. Starting the day with tea as usual. And since Jana and Steph were hosting a SUYB readathon, also with a book.

11 a.m. Breakfast. Note the sultanas on the side… totally counts towards my fruit or veg with every meal goal!

12 noon. Getting dressed.

1 p.m. In town, where the sky can’t decide what it wants (it looks friendy-ish here, but right at the back you can see where the really threatening clouds start!). Also, construction.

2 p.m. Still in town. Next stop Aldi.

3 p.m. Home and eating a late lunch.

4 p.m. Back to my book… it *is* a readathon after all!

5 p.m. A break to boil the kettle.

6 p.m. Jan came home from choir practice so I got started with cooking tea.

7 p.m. So many pans all wanting my attention at once. Help!

8 p.m. Finally starting Good Omens. YESSSSS!

9 p.m. And back to reading.

That was the last photo I took, although I stayed up reading a while longer.

If you’re interested in taking part in a photo an hour, the next one will be on 15th February. Simply take a photo every hour and upload it to Twitter or Instagram… or save them all and use them to write a blog post later. Or do all three!

2019: Hold on for One More Day

Last year I quoted a song in the title of my yearly recap post, so I thought I’d do it again, and having found myself singing the chorus of this Wilson Philips song more than once this year it seemed fitting.

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

That meant one more day of no proper toilet, one more day of dust, one more day of avoiding a kitchen and bathroomless home as much as possible. But also one more day of injections, one more day of progesterone pessaries, one day closer to finding out whether, this time, things had worked out. Usually there was actually more than one day still to go, but I kept telling myself to just give myself this injection, just get today’s appointment out of the way, and somehow it actually helped. But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

We pretty much started the year with the news that our second IUI had failed. Well, that’s not strictly true. My blood test was on the 5th so we had four days of thinking there was at least a possibility I could be pregnant. Alas, it was not to be. Other than that January was a fairly uneventful month. We took a couple of day trips within Switzerland but mostly I worked a lot and tried not to think about the fact that I should have been going on maternity leave at the end of the month.

Einsiedeln Abbey
Einsiedeln Abbey

My paternal grandmother turned 80 at the end of January (the 27th to be precise), so the weekend after her birthday we flew out to celebrate with her. We flew over after work on Thursday, 31st January, and after one delayed plane and running to catch our connection, we made it to Newcastle but our suitcase did not. It finally turned up the next day, but not until after we’d been out for a meal with my grandma. Luckily I’d packed spare underwear in my hand luggage and the outfit I wore on the plane didn’t look too awful ;-). And being forced to stay in all day gave me a chance to go through some of the stuff I still had at my dad’s. I got rid of a lot, but there are still many books from my childhood that I want to keep and therefore need to pick up eventually. I brought 7 books back with me from that trip but there are still many more waiting for me! The Saturday was spent with my mum and partly with my brother before he had to go to work. And then on Sunday, 3rd February, we flew back to Switzerland… it was the briefest of trips.

Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison statue in Morpeth

5th February was Jan’s and my anniversary – 15 years since we got together! We couldn’t celebrate that night since Jan was working late but we went out for a lovely meal at the weekend. On the last weekend of the month, we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Lugano. It was so nice to get away and relax for a weekend, just the two of us. Especially since I did a lot of overtime that month and, in between everything else, I had spent two weeks of that month giving myself injections for another IUI cycle. As you already know, it failed, which we found at at the beginning of March. With that went our last chance for a 2019 baby. We then made the decision that we wouldn’t continue with IUI, but would move on to IVF. A big step. March was also the month of my due date for the twins, would have been my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday (you may remember she passed away a week after I lost the boys) and it was Mother’s Day in the UK. Definitely a month of just surviving the best I could. It wasn’t all bad though. Jan had his birthday on the 1st, we saw How to Train Your Dragon at the cinema and Sarah Millican in Zurich. Jan’s dad came to stay for a couple of days, and Jan and I went to Meiringen where we failed to see the Aare Gorge since it was closed, but did get to go up the local mountain.

Hasliberg view
View from Hasliberg

April was slightly quieter at work, which was nice after being incredibly busy up until mid-March. We also had a new colleague start so after two years I was no longer the only full-time English translator! Obviously he needed some time to find his feet and couldn’t do every job right away, but it did take some of the pressure of me.

I started injections for IVF the week before Easter, which meant we couldn’t go away as we had originally planned since I had to be around for appointments. Instead, we spent an afternoon at the zoo in Zurich (after a morning appointment at the clinic). The nurse called after my blood test result came in to tell me I needed to start Orgalutran that day – the medication to stop my body from ovulating by itself, which you obviously don’t want in IVF – so I had to go and do that in the toilets. That one involves a proper syringe rather than just a pen so I preferred to do it in private. Later, when I sat on a bench to do my hormone injection (the one to make the eggs grow) it decided to bleed madly all over the place, which had never happened before in 3 rounds of IUI! Luckily Jan being a diabetic is used to needles so he was able to sort out the used needle, etc. while I stopped the flow of blood. And my response to the medication wasn’t affected – my retrieval was the Saturday after Easter and they managed to get 22 eggs (18 of which were mature). We celebrated that success with a trip to Gruyère. Most people would probably go and lie down after an egg retrieval but by that time the renovation was in full swing and we really didn’t want to go home to dustville. I took it pretty easy – no massive hikes – and it all ended up being fine.

Since they got so many eggs, I wasn’t allowed to do a fresh transfer because of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, so May ended up being a month off. Given that we were living on a literal building site at the time that was probably a good thing!

construction21

Then, on the 18th, we flew out to Spain to join my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. We had a lovely long weekend in Ronda, then after everyone else flew back to England Jan and and I continued to Cádiz (via Gibraltar) and then to Lisbon. It was definitely a much needed break… from everything. Construction and infertility treatments (the latter only for me. Other than providing his “sample” and shelling out the cash, Jan wasn’t involved much). By the time we returned, the flat was basically finished… although it would be September before the various workmen were really, truly out of our hair. We still couldn’t use the shower since the glass door for that didn’t arrive until August, but we were able to shower in the bath, had flushing toilets and a kitchen that worked, so good enough. I had another week off work, which I mainly spent cleaning dust from places that hadn’t even been part of the renovation and filling the cupboards in the new kitchen.

Ronda
Ronda, Spain

June meant a long weekend thanks to Whit Monday. Since I didn’t have any appointments for a change we decided to go away for a couple of days. Jan booked a hotel in Interlaken and on the first day we went to Jungfraujoch then the next day we returned to the Aare Gorge and this time had better luck!

The rest of the month was mainly spent unpacking all the kitchen and bathroom stuff that had been living in boxes since the renovation began. Although everything wasn’t completely finished we were at least able to get back to some kind of normality! We also visited the two zero waste supermarkets Basel has to offer in preparation for plastic-free July. I had my first IVF embryo transfer in June as well. It all went smoothly, but as you already know, implantation didn’t happen.

As I’ve just mentioned, in July I attempted to go plastic free. If you’re interested in how I did you can read my posts here, here and here. Jan participated in the Basel Tattoo again (as a member of the choir) and I had a ticket for one of the evenings. I didn’t enjoy it as much as in previous years but it was still really good.

Basel Tattoo lions

I don’t really remember what else I did. Worked a lot. Had my second failed embryo transfer. And on the 31st we went to see the fireworks at the Rhine Falls in advance of Swiss national day.

Rheinfall fireworks

August started with a trip to Eguisheim in France. The 1st is Switzerland’s national holiday and I had taken the day off for it (reminder: I work in Germany so I don’t get it as a public holiday) and we wanted to do something. Eguisheim is a gorgeous village and we had a lovely day out.

Eguisheim1

I then had to work for 2 days before it was the weekend. We had arranged to meet up with a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg, then two weeks later we took a trip to Karlsruhe, first to meet up with friends there and then to meet up with more friends the next day to go hiking. Jan’s mum and her partner also came to Basel to spend a day with us in August. So much socialising! I’m not used to it. LOL.

Freiburg
Freiburg from above

We took a month off from IVF in August so I could have a hysteroscopy… basically a camera inserted in the uterus. In the process, the doctor found some scar tissue, which she cut open and she also drained a cyst. Despite the painkiller I took beforehand it hurt and I was glad when it was over!

August is my birthday month and in 2019 I turned 36. It wasn’t the birthday I had been expecting a year before (when I was still pregnant) but I finished work early to read and then Jan took me for a lovely meal in the evening so it ended up being okay.

September went by way too fast and I didn’t really do much to be honest. Jan and I took a trip to Brugg, which turned out to be disappointing, and we saw John Cleese live with a friend. I also celebrated 10 years in my job… although I didn’t actually “celebrate” at all, just acknowledged it and moved on.

Brugg2
The “Storchenturm” in Brugg

October brought the one year anniversary of losing the boys and another failed embryo transfer. I spent the actual day of the loss showing my great aunt and great uncle around Basel, which was a great distraction (Jan was away with one of his choirs that week). At the weekend Jan and I went up to the memorial where their ashes are buried and then walked into town and had a hot chocolate – which is exactly what we did the day their ashes were placed there. Having a ritual feels like a good thing.

In the middle of the month, we took a trip to the Verenaschlucht (Verena Gorge) in canton Solothurn, where we had a nice walk. I think that was our only trip in October… for most of the month I was incredibly busy at work and didn’t want to do much more than sleep and read on the weekends. Also Jan had a million projects going on and was busy with rehearsals, concerts and meetings practically all the time he wasn’t at work. I did go to watch two of the concerts and went out to eat with the performers after each one though.

Verenaschlucht
Verenaschlucht

I was off work for the last week of October but it rained heavily almost the entire time so it ended up being a washout. We also met with the head doctor of the fertility clinic after our fourth failed embryo transfer and decided I would have another hysteroscopy in December.

November was the first time since May that I didn’t have any infertility related things going on. No appointments. No medication. No procedures. It was kind of relaxing, but also surreal. I had the first week of the month off and was actually able to spend it not thinking about doctors at all! It was also the start of my most sociable period of the year…

We went to Karlsruhe again on the first weekend of the month to watch Jan’s former choir perform and then to see a performance that a friend from student residence days was part of. While we were there we of course met up with various friends, including being invited for breakfast with one friend, his wife and their baby. It continued to pour down for most of the rest of my time off work, but luckily cleared up in time for my cousin and her boyfriend’s arrival on the 9th. They stayed with us for 4 days (one of which I was working) and we fit in a tour of Basel including a visit to the autumn fair and a trip up a mountain followed by a boat ride to Lucerne. Then they went to Colmar by themselves for a day while I worked. I had the absolute best time with them. Having them to stay was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

Rigi Kulm view
The view from Rigi Kulm

The following weekend, a friend (and former colleague) came to stay with us for a night on her way home to Luxembourg from Zurich. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2016 so it was nice to catch up in person!

I also had my best reading month quite possibly of my entire life in November thanks to a middle grade readathon called Believathon. I had a great time reading nothing but children’s books for an entire month – it was honestly exactly the escape I needed from a not particularly great year.

And finally we come to December… which I’ve literally just recapped in a post so I’ll try not to say too much in this section. I had my hysteroscopy appointment at the beginning of the month, but unfortunately the doctor couldn’t manage to insert the camera properly so she had to stop (I still ended up with cramps later in the day though!). We went to the Christmas market in Baden-Baden, where we met up with the same friends we saw in Freiburg in August, who then also came to stay with us for New Year. I also met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one night only. I showed her and her family around Basel, and of course we had a Glühwein at Basel’s Christmas market.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt
Baden-Baden Christmas market

I saw Jan perform twice with different choirs/groups and went out to eat with the performers afterwards both times, then we went to a birthday party the day before we flew to England for Christmas with my family. We had five days there, which we used to spend time with as many people as possible, but still managed to find some time to chill in between. We also got some lovely gifts and ate a lot of food. And right before Christmas my dad was declared cancer free after spending 2019 being treated for prostate cancer. We returned to Basel on 28th December and I spent the last few days of the year reading It and preparing for visitors while Jan had to work. Then, for the first time since we got together, we actually ended a year in the same place we began it… right here in Basel with friends, games and copious amounts of cheese.

While, unlike 2018, I can’t point to any one particular event that made 2019 terrible I have to say I think last year was worse than the year before. Although the end of 2018 was obviously awful (to recap: we lost our boys, my maternal grandma died exactly a week later, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted and my dad was diagnosed with cancer), for a time before that things were looking up I was the happiest I had ever been. In many ways, the constant, ongoing stress of 2019 has felt so much worse than happiness followed by complete devastation. I feel like I spent most of last year very much in my own bubble, licking my wounds (which is also why I’ve been a horrible friend for the most part and have utterly failed to stay in touch with anyone or keep up with my friends’ lives). But over the last few weeks I’ve finally felt like I’m starting to emerge from the fog and I am hopeful that 2020 can be a better year, even if I ultimately don’t get my wish to start a family of my own. Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead! (And no renovations, thank goodness – I’m still dealing with dust in unexpected places from the last one!)

This has been longer than I intended, so if you’ve actually made it this far then thank you! I hope this new year is everything you want it to be.

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!

October 2019 recap

Hello friends. October is over and we are already just short of a week into November, leaving us with less than two months left of the year… and of the decade. Eeek! Is anyone else so not ready? I feel like I need to do something amazing before the end of the year to make up for wasting the entire rest of the 2010s, but obviously that’s not going to happen. Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about. Today I’m here to link up with Kristen for What’s New With You. (Go check out her blog – she’s awesome!).

whats new with you

Remembering

That’s a weird heading for this section but it’s the best I can think of so we’ll go with it. If you saw my September recap, you will know that 3rd October was exactly one year since we lost our boys. I was off work that day because my employer is actually in Germany and it’s their national holiday. Most of the day was spent with my great aunt and great uncle, who were visiting their son just across the border in Germany. After showing them all around Basel (we walked a lot) and dropping them off back at the train station, I stopped by the cemetery on the way home. Then on the Saturday Jan and I went up there together. It was the first time Jan had been since their the boys’ had been added to the site… I wanted to say “plaque” but it’s not a plaque, it’s like a concrete strip with the names carved into it and a little star. I would show you but we don’t want their names to be broadcast publicly (Jan doesn’t even want them on Facebook, where only my friends list would be able to see them). After the cemetery we walked into town and went for a hot chocolate, which seemed appropriate considering that’s exactly what we did the day we buried their ashes (which was actually a year ago today). I would have liked to be pregnant again before the anniversary, but alas that was not to be. Maybe we’ll get there before next October. That would be nice. I’m not getting any younger here!

Travel/days out

Jan was busy on almost every weekend in October, but he had a free Saturday in the middle of the month so we decided to go out for the afternoon. After a quick search of the Internet, I came up with the Verenaschlucht (Verena Gorge) in canton Solothurn. Jan got a car and we drove there and parked near the start. We walked through the gorge to the Verena Hermitage and then followed the megalith path to get back to the car. It wasn’t a long walk – maybe an hour in total – but given we hadn’t left the house until 2 p.m. it couldn’t really have been much longer.

 

Reading

October wasn’t my best reading month. I took part in Spookathon but only ended up reading 3 and a half out of my five choices. The three I did read can be matched to all the prompts though so I technically completed it, and I finished reading book 4 the following week when I had to go into the office. But for most of the month I was reading It by Stephen King (which I’m nowhere near finished) or not reading at all because I was distracted by crafting.

Watching

Our Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch continues. We watch an episode most nights after Jan finishes work. I can actually cross stitch while watching, which is useful because I now need to get serious about my Christmas card making.

Craft stuff

I finished making Halloween cards for Post Pals – 14 were completed in September so in October I made 26. I then got started on Christmas – I’ve done the stitching for six so far and I’ve also sorted a few handmade, non-cross-stitched cards that will be sent out to Post Pals families come December. The cross stitched ones are mainly for my family and friends. Post Pals are also holding a craft auction in December to raise money to send the families of sick children (and some who have sadly lost their children) on a glamping adventure at Chessington – you can read all about it here. So I’ve been making Christmas ornaments for that and they will also be getting some cross-stitched cards – I’ve stitched two birthday themed designs for them already. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Quite possibly! At least having some time off work gave me the chance to get a few things done. Here’s an autumn card I stitched at the beginning of October that I really like.

autumn card

Concerts

Jan had performances with two of his choirs in October, and I obviously attended both. The first one was okay but not really my type of thing. The second one was at the Tinguely Museum – coolest venue ever – and I really enjoyed it. They were performing in front of one of the exhibits – here’s a photo I took before the concert started.

Tinguely

After both concerts I got to go out to eat with the members of the choir, which is always nice.

Purchases

I realised I didn’t have any waterproof shoes (other than winter boots and hiking shoes), so, with autumn being the season for rain, rain, and more rain I obviously had to buy some. Luckily I managed to think of it before the current downpour days and I am very pleased with them. Please excuse the teddy bear socks on the photos below 😉

 

I also collected tokens from Coop to buy a Kitchen Aid blender… or technically to make Jan buy it 😉 We got it for pretty much half price, which I think is a good deal. It’s not like I spent more than usual to get the tokens – it was all weekly food shopping that would have been done anyway. We have used it several times to make smoothies so I feel like it’s already justified itself.

Finally, I bought this liquid lipstick thingy (it’s in a lip gloss style tube but looks more like lipstick once it’s on). It’s very autumn and I absolutely love it! It’s actually a bit more coppery than it looks on the photo below but hopefully you get the idea.

me

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

Work was pretty busy again in October, for me at least. Both my colleagues had time off at the beginning of the month – part of which overlapped so I was the only English translator for about a week. I had the final week of the month off – or technically final 4 days since the Friday was 1st November – and I feel like it was well earned. The week before that I literally had 20 translations that had to be completed. Not an exaggeration. Four of them I had actually translated previously so I only had to check my proofreader’s revisions and get the final files ready, but that left 16 that I both translated and entered corrections for in that week. Needless to say, I was relieved when I finally set my out of office message and logged off on the Friday!

I had plans to do many things during my time off, but that entire week was a washout. I don’t mind rain, but this was the pouring down without a break and if you venture out for even a few minutes you will be soaked kind. On the 30th, I went for a walk along the stream so I could take my annual autumn photos. I was out for around 25 minutes or half an hour and had to change my clothes when I got home! The next day was at least slightly more friendly… as in there was enough of a break between rain showers for me to take a bag of books to one of the free bookcases in town without them all turning to pulp before I got them there, so I at least managed part of my decluttering goal. There are still some books in the giant carrier bag because there were way too many for my to carry in one go!

I also had a doctor’s appointment during that week to discuss where we go now that our fourth embryo transfer has failed. It was decided that I will have another hysteroscopy. That will be in December and I am not looking forward to it even a little bit (last time was not fun!). But if there’s any chance it will help then I have to do it. That means we won’t be able to try again until January, so with that my chances of being a mother before my next birthday are out the window.

Oh, the autumn fair also started in Basel last week. I didn’t get a chance to go properly (pouring down, remember?) but while I was out getting rid of books I managed to grab a few photos.

 

That’s all I’ve got for you. I took two weeks off work, but since the second of those weeks (i.e. now) is in November you’ll have to wait for my next monthly recap to read about them. In the meantime, go check out the link up and welcome Kristen back to more regular blogging. She has been very much missed in the blogosphere!

Autumn walk 2019

Every year since we moved to Basel I’ve gone for a walk at the end of October and taken photos of the autumn colours. The second year, it was pure coincidence that I took the photos on almost the same date, but since then I’ve done it on purpose…. what can I say, I like the direct comparison. This year I had to overcome a certain amount of reluctance to leave the house since it’s been raining for days*, but I gave myself a stern talking to (along the lines of “it’s only water” and “skin’s waterproof”), put on my raincoat and got out there.

(* I hope everyone who’s been wishing for this weather since mid-August is currently out stomping in puddles and singing in the rain… I would like to think that somebody is enjoying the fact that my time off work has been a complete washout so far!)

Anyway, enough rambling – here are this year’s (rather soggy) photos.

This year the trees are all either already bare or still green, with the occasional splash of yellow or brown here and there. None of the vivid reds and oranges I found in previous years. Also, apologies for any blurry spots on these photos – my lens got wet!

And now here’s the comparison of the same date on all five years (sadly not all the exact same stretch of path, but you get the idea).

The 2017 and 2019 photos are in basically the same place, so that’s nice. There’s definitely more green in the background this time! Hopefully next year I’ll be able to get out there again and continue the experiment.

September 2019 recap

Before I get into today’s post, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today is exactly one year since we lost our boys. I never thought I would reach this date again and still be no closer to being a mother. (And please don’t give me any comments about how I still am my babies’ mama, they are always with me, etc. While true, it is not the same as having a living, breathing child to take care of and love). In honour of this day, I thought I would share the only “bump” photo in existence from my pregnancy – courtesy of my mother who insisted on taking it. I was planning to wait until I actually looked pregnant and not just bloated and frumpy, but I never got the chance.

Bev

This and a handful of ultrasound printouts are the only evidence I have that I was ever pregnant. Oh well, gotta keep swimming, to paraphrase Dory. I’m meeting up with my great aunt and uncle this morning (no work because it’s a holiday in Germany), but I hope I’ll be able to go to the cemetery later.

Anyway, on to my September recap, although honestly the entire month went by in a flash and I don’t feel like I did much at all. I’m linking up with the lovely Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

Travel/day trips

Jan was away on the first full weekend of the month, so on the Saturday I went for a bit of an explore. There’s a place close to Basel called Münchenstein and I had read there’s a ruined castle there, right in the centre of the village, so I went in search of it. I forgot to take my camera so I can’t show you a photo (although I put some phone shots on Instagram, which you my have seen if we’re connected on there), but I found it. The path/stairs outside and the house next to it are private property but there’s a sign saying you can walk there. Nonetheless, a woman standing outside one of the buildings at the bottom of the stairs spotted me reading the sign and glared at me like I was desecrating the place. Rude! The following weekend, Jan was away again, but the one after that was the only one in the entire month where he wasn’t either away with a choir or spending both Saturday and Sunday at rehearsals. We decided to go out for the afternoon on the Saturday, but needed somewhere close since he had to do something with a choir in the evening (literally stand outside the theatre and hum for 9 minutes, then leave. Weird project). We decided on Brugg, which the Internet told me is a “picturesque town”. Spoiler alert: it’s not! I mean, it’s not horrible… there are a couple of nice buildings and the river is pretty, but when I read “picturesque” I kind of expect something more. Windisch, which is either the neighbouring town or a district of Brugg (I never quite figured it out), has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre – called Vindonissa – so that was kind of cool. We had a nice afternoon, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to visit Brugg.

Comedy stuff

We went to see John Cleese at the beginning of the month. I think people who didn’t know much of his stuff would have got more out of it since the show mainly consisted of him showing clips from various things on a large screen and explaining how they came up with it/the background to certain things or just showing his favourite clips. It was a bit like a documentary about projects John Cleese had been involved in, but live. Not that it wasn’t good, but I’m not sure it was worth what we paid for the tickets. Oh well.

Cross stitch and card making

I was mostly making Halloween cards in September – I’m now up to 14 completed. Plus a few birthday cards for Post Pals. I meant to start on my Christmas card cross stitching and technically I did, but I only completed one design so I really, really need to get a move on in October!

Reading

For the second month in a row, I read 13 books. I had days where I didn’t pick up a book at all, which is unusual for me. I was tired most of the time and I also got stuck on one book that I enjoyed when I was reading it but never seemed to feel like picking up. Still, 13 is a decent amount so I’m happy.

Watching

I got the box set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my birthday, so Jan and I started watching that in September. I am loving my trip back down memory lane so far. I’m hoping Jan will have some time to continue watching it with me this month because October feels like the perfect time for demons and vampires and all things undead.

Celebrations

My “baby” brother turned 13 (I officially feel old!) and my godson turned seven. Not that I actually celebrated either birthday since they are in England and I’m not, but they happened. Here’s the birthday card I stitched for my brother (I’ve blurred out the name):

teenager card

Also, I started my current job on 1 September 2009, so it was my 10-year anniversary. Again, I did not actually celebrate but I got a letter from the bosses and will get a one-off bonus payment with my October wages. Perfect timing for Christmas shopping!

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

I don’t really have much to add in this section. I’ve been trying to declutter… using the Swiss method – basically take an empty cardboard box, write the word “Gratis” (=free) on it, fill with things you don’t want and place outside for the neighbours to help themselves. I managed to get rid of a few things that way. I also took about 25 books to free public bookcases in September… I still have a few more in the carrier bag I mentioned in my last post, but I will hopefully be taking those away this weekend. I made apple and rhubarb crumble the other week to use up some apples that we’d had for too long (the rhubarb was frozen) and I decided it should definitely count towards my 5-a-day since I didn’t put any sugar at all in the filling. The topping contained wholegrain porridge oats and pecan nuts. I am a crumble-making genius.

That’s all I’ve got for ya. Like I said, this month went by way too fast.
Let me know what you’ve been up to lately, and of course check out the link up to find out what’s new with the rest of the blogosphere.