Recent doings #25

Hello my lovelies! Well, here we are… the first month of 2018 done. January was a relatively quiet one for me, but that was what I wanted after being so busy in December. Today is the first Thursday of the new month, so of course I am linking up with Kristen and Gretch for What’s New With You? (Although the answer to that is nothing, really). Here’s what I got up to in January:

whats-new

Reading. First, I completed Erin’s book challenge. I then read a few other books and, thanks to being in the office yesterday (=looong train ride), I actually finished On The Road. Yay me! I will tell you about my reading in detail on Show Us Your Books day.

Watching. Jan got The Big Bang Theory season 10 and Arrival DVDs for Christmas from my family so we watched them. Also, a Facebook contact from high school reminded me of the existence of Pushing Daisies… my dad showed me the first episode years ago and I always meant to watch it. So I asked Jan whether he would watch it with me and he agreed. We watched our way through all of Season 1 within a week, so now I need Season 2!

Eating. The month started off as a continuation of December… well, I had to finish the Christmas chocolate, right? But after the first week I was back at work so I decided it was time to try to be healthy again. There was a lot of soup/broth. But then we were trying to use up some vouchers from a booklet we had (it expired yesterday) so we ate out way too often and on two of those occasions I had dessert. So yeah.. not a good eating month.

Drinking. Tea. Probably too much if I’m honest. I need to cut down on my caffeine again!

Celebrating. A Basel friend’s birthday. We went for dinner at a Turkish restaurant then to some bars.

Making. Birthday cards for Post Pals children and also one for my grandma. And I’ve just realised I forgot to take a photo of the one I made for my grandma…

owl tape card

Cross stitching. Cards for Post Pals children – now that Christmas is over I’ve returned to my mission of a cross-stitched card for every child. I managed to get two out in January.

Playing. Jan’s colleague invited us over one Saturday to play and escape game that he got for Christmas. Like an escape room, but in table-top form. It was cool, but relatively easy. And I still want to do a real escape room even though I expect to suck at it.

Burning. Yeah, weird category. I found candles that were Swizzles sweet (candy) themed online and could not resist ordering them! The scents are supposed to be Lovehearts, Refreshers, Drumstick Lollies. The Lovehearts ones are rose scented, which is not what a Loveheart smells like! Refreshers smells kind of lemon sherbet-ish, which kind of works. As for the Drumstick Lolly one… the actual wax just is Drumstick Lolly. When burning it mostly just smells like any other red fruit scented candle – sort of sweet and not really like anything – but occasionally I will get a waft that smells exactly like Drumstick Lollies.

Buying. Apart from too many books? I bought a fox necklace from Etsy and I looove it. It came from this shop, if you’re interested. I’m sure bought other stuff as well, but I can’t remember it. Huh.

I’m linking up with Kristen and Gretch, of course.
Happy February everyone! What’s new with you?

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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!

Friday letters

Ah Friday… you wonderful harbinger of the weekend! I’ve been having trouble falling asleep all week, so you’re even more welcome than you would have been anyway. To celebrate, let’s have some letters.

Friday letters

Dear Yankee Candle. That is not what a crackling wood fire smells like! Have you actually been near a fire lately?

Dear weather. I take it you are trying to convince me that it really is November and not May at the absolute latest, as my brain is still convinced it must be? I can think of no other explanation for this constant rain 😉

Dear baked potatoes. I will never cease to be amazed (and grateful) that something so simple is so good.

Dear blue tits. Hello! How nice to see you gracing the balcony again. I’m not sure where you disappear to over the summer, but I’m glad you’re back! (But please stop trying to eat my parsley!)

Dear Christmas. You are sneaking up way too fast and I really need to decide on gifts for my family before it’s too late…

That’s all for today. Happy Friday everyone… and happy weekend!

Recent doings #23

It’s November (What? How? Why?) and it’s Thursday, which means it must be time for What’s new with you? If you’ve been wondering what on Earth I was doing on October instead of keeping my blog updated then you’ve come to the right place 😉 Here are all the things I’ve been doing for the past month.

whats-new

Reading. I completed the bonus round of Erin’s reading challenge. Woo! To find out the specific books I read, you’ll have to come back when it’s time for Show Us Your Books… but I will tell you that I started Magician by Raymond E Feist about a week ago and so ar it’s really good. I had been putting it off because it’s so long!

Watching. Hocus Pocus! It was on TV on Sunday and I couldn’t resist. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. I also saw some episodes of Extreme Cake Makers. Some very impressive cakes going on there!

Eating. Pumpkins and chickpeas. Standard autumn fare really. But last week we ate something more unusual. I will tell you what in a few days… don’t want to ruin the surprise 😉

Drinking. I relapsed and went back to drinking too much caffeinated tea. Hmm. Also smoothies – sadly ready-made. I want to make my own but I need a blender first.

Buying. Too many patterned tapes. They are taking over! I need a better way to store them. Also my godson’s Christmas present, which I am very excited about.

Making. Halloween cards for Post Pals children. So, so many Halloween cards! Here are a few:

Cross stitching. Designs for Christmas cards. After spending so long making Halloween cards, I am now way behind with Christmas!

Seeing/hearing. Jan perform with two different choirs. At the second one, they were performing with a trio consisting of a harpist, flautist and… violaist? Is that a word? My spell checker doesn’t recognise it. A man on a viola anyway. I absolutely loved them!

Winning. The pub quiz. Yay! It was the first time we’d been in ages as well.

Visiting. The pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg – it’s becoming a bit of tradition. Again, I preferred the theme two years ago, but we had a nice day with our friends and I got to eat pumpkin Maultaschen, which is always a good thing.

Ludwigsburg Kurbisfest

Booking. Flights to England for my sister’s wedding. Not long to go now! I also got my dress altered in October (it was way too long). Thought I’d throw that in here since I couldn’t think of a category for it 😉

Coveting. This jumper: https://www.aboutyou.ch/p/naketano/knit-maja-pusteblume-iii-3651582 It is way out of my price range though. I am not paying 57 CHF (=49 euros/42 pounds) for a jumper! Maybe I’ll send the link to Jan… he did ask what I want for Christmas 😉

I can’t think of anything else. The rest of the time I was just working, cleaning and doing laundry. You know… life stuff. Not too exciting. How about you – been doing anything interesting recently?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch, of course.

 

 

Expat Qs

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

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

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

Basel
Basel town hall

 

2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fondue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

basel-rhine

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

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

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

Recent doings #20

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

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

whats-new

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

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

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

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

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

mermaid birthday card

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

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

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

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

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