May 2019 recap

Hello my lovelies. Today I’m here to talk about May. Not Theresa May – I have no desire to discuss her or any of the mess that is currently politics in Britain. No, I mean the month of May… and specifically what I got up to in it.

Of course I am linking up with the lovely Kristen for What’s New With You.

whats new with you

In a way, it was a month of two halves. For the first two weeks, we were living on an actual building site while our bathrooms and kitchen were being replaced. That meant our flat had no shower, no toilets and nowhere to cook. We were provided with a portable toilet and a small electric hob, and there was a temporary shower set up downstairs in the drying room. For those who missed it, a couple of photos of what the place looked like, including one of the sink that was installed in the stairwell so we could at least attempt to wash dishes:

During the week, I rented a desk in a co-working space and at night we ate out. Spending as little time as possible at home made things bearable, but it was still a relief when the time came for us to go on holiday! Since we were flying from Zurich airport relatively early in the morning, we decided to go to Zurich the night before (well, Jan just stayed there since it’s where he worked) and sleep in a hotel. I am so glad we did! It meant a night in a dust-free room, a proper shower and a slightly later/less stressful start – we would have had to take a train from Basel at around 6 a.m.!

And then it was off to Ronda, Spain to meet family and friends. We had two full days and an afternoon there with my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. My mum, her friend, Jan, my brother and I all stayed in a lovely apartment while the others were just down the road.

Everyone else left early on the Tuesday morning, but we had decided we wanted to have more than an extended weekend away, so we had booked an apartment in Cádiz for the next two nights. On the way there, we stopped off for a day on Gibraltar. The town is so bizarre – looking at it, you could be on any high street in the UK – there’s Debenhams, Next, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, multiple fish and chip shops. I even spied my bank (Natwest). The post boxes and phone booths are red and even the bins resembled those I know from Newcastle. But the buildings and trees are all wrong – I’ve never seen purple blossoms in the middle of a British town!

After wandering through the town, we of course took the cable car up the mountain, because what else do you do on Gibraltar? It was amazing being right up close to the monkeys – but also kind of terrifying. Especially when two of them started shouting at each other and it seemed like a fight was about to happen. We were already heading back to the cable car at that point and needless to say we didn’t hang around near those particular apes for long!

We then drove on to Cádiz, arriving around 6 o’clock in the evening, spent the next day there and finally headed to Lisbon via Evora. After two days in Lisbon and a very brief stop in Sintra on our final morning, it was time to fly home. Back in Basel, we stopped for dinner before doing anything else since we had no idea what the state of our flat was going to be…

As it turns out, it was almost finished. We had toilets that actually flushed and a working kitchen (although we waited until after the final inspection to actually use it). I still had another week off work so on the Monday I walked into town very early in the morning so the flat would be free for them to get on with whatever last minute things needed doing. I bought breakfast, which I ate in the park, then went to a café called Unternehmen Mitte where they let you just sit without having to purchase anything. There, I finished the book I had started reading on the flight home. So that killed about 2 hours. I had a wander round town, bought and ate some lunch, then ended up in a bookshop where I was very naughty and bought two books. I then read one of those books sitting at the train station – the only other place I could think of where you can sit for ages without being moved on! My initial idea had been to go back to the park where I had breakfast, but every seat was taken by people on their lunch breaks. Book finished, I went and treated myself to coffee and cake in the restaurant of a department store. Finally, at 4 p.m. I started walking home, arriving to find that the builders had already left. Tuesday was inspection day, so I trailed the construction manager and his assistant as they made a list of all the small things that still needed to be done – cracks to paint over, holes to be filled. I also got official permission to fill the fridge and start putting things back in the kitchen, so that’s what I spent the rest of the week doing. Plus cleaning every single thing. Construction dust gets everywhere! I’ve never hoovered so much in my life Thursday was a public holiday, so on that day I actually had Jan to help. And the new washing machine (in our actual flat!) got used a lot. As did the tumbler dryer, which I am aware is incredibly bad for the environment but with the drying room still out of commission (that’s where the temporary shower resides) and a friend staying over on Saturday, which meant the spare room bedding needed to be freed from dust, we didn’t have much of a choice. You can’t dry sheets and quilt covers on a clothes horse!

Okay, this is already long so just quickly. During those first two weeks when everything was going on, we obviously didn’t want to spend too much time in our dusty, dusty flat, so on 1st May – a public holiday – we went to Porrentruy, which is cute but not that exciting. Then on the 4th the builders needed access on a Saturday (at 8 a.m. – no lie in for us!) so we headed to Lenzburg because it was raining and there was a castle that would allow us to be inside. The following Saturday, Jan had a concert in the evening so we ate lunch in town and did some shopping before he had to leave (and I then followed an hour later to attend said concert).

Lenzburg
Lenzburg Castle

As for yearly goals… I didn’t really keep track of my vegetable intake, but we ate at Markthalle and vegetarian restaurant a lot so I think I got my five portions most days… at least until we went on holiday. Lots of cheese and meat boards were consumed there. I definitely managed to drink enough water for the entire month, which I’m proud of. And I finally actually finished a non-fiction book. I mean, I only want to read ten this year and we’re already nearly halfway through. No big deal…

I think that just about sums up my May. The rest of the time I worked (from a co-working space) and attempted to keep the living room and bedroom free from the worst of the dust – a Sisyphean task if there ever was one! My next post will be my choices for round 11 of Erin’s book challenge, which starts on 1st July. May wasn’t my best reading month (although I managed 9 books, so also not my worst ever) so I am hoping to get lots of reading done over the summer months.

Okay, enough. I seem to have gone back to that old rambling format that I was trying to get away from and I’m sure you’re bored of me by now. Go check out the link up because Kristen is awesome and should be shown all the love. And tell me in the comments what you’ve been up to lately.

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“I don’t think that’s where the bath tub belongs”…

… and other tales from the building site.

Not much to tell you today, but I thought I’d update anyway. These photos were actually taken at the weekend and I didn’t get round to posting them, but there’s no visible difference today anyway so it’s fine.

Last week they put fire protection walls over the pipes in the bathrooms. I know they’re fire protection walls because they were standing outside our flat door the day before and that’s what the label on them said 😉 Then a few days later a shower tray (I assume) and bath tub appeared. The bath isn’t quite where it belongs yet though…

 

(I guess you can’t really tell from the photo, but the bath is literally in front of the door.)
Those black pipes that are just standing around in the picture on the left have gone now, although I’m not sure where…

The kitchen looks the same, so no photo. Although today they’ve removed some of the drawers and the cupboard thing (with bins attached) from under the sink, so it seems like today they’ve been doing things with the wiring, which is less dramatic/visible that other things but also important. Other than that a whole bunch of stuff has appeared in the corridor again… wall panels like the ones that went over the pipes in the kitchen and something that may be for the kitchen floor? I’m not sure. Hopefully that will all be getting installed somewhere tomorrow. We’ll see.

Also, we had a (literal) shit show with the temporary shower/toilet facilities at the weekend. I went down there on Saturday morning to find what I thought was water on the floor. Then I looked down the side of the container and… it was not just water. Jan called the construction manager who first claimed we weren’t supposed to be using the toilet since we have chemical ones (nope, not what we were told!) then blamed the residents for throwing things down there they shouldn’t have. Which makes no sense because it wasn’t blocked but clearly leaking/not attached properly. He then told us there was still one bathroom in the next door building that could be used… the water there was being switched off on Monday (as in today) but it could be used over the weekend. And he would send somebody to clean up the mess. So I got to shower in a real bathroom again over the weekend and this morning. I’ll be back using the temporary shower tomorrow though (at 5 a.m. since I also have to go into the office tomorrow. Ugh.). Five more sleeps until holiday…

We (sort of) have a kitchen!

Hello friends! It’s time for another update on the building site that is our home. I was going to write one at the weekend but then we returned home on Friday to a note on the door requesting access at 8 the next morning. That’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday! So I decided to wait until that was done and then ended up not having time to post, so you get an extra two days of progress… and what progress it is. This is how our kitchen looks now:

Above the long drawers at the back there is a hob (for my American friends that would be hotplates), the doors to the right of the oven house a fridge and a freezer and the “cupboard” beside the sink is actually home to a dishwasher. Also, that squareish mark on the ceiling above the cupboards/shelf part? That’s actually where the fridge used to be, so from that you can see where the kitchen has been extended slightly into the dining area giving us a little more kitchen space.

The bathrooms, on the other hand, haven’t progressed a great deal. Here they are:

Without referring to last week’s post you probably won’t even be able to tell what’s been done. An additional frame has been added on top of the one that was previously fitted and there are a few more pipes/hoses back there. I’m interested to see what will be happening next…

Apart from that, work has now started in the next door part of the building, so there are no longer empty flats with bathrooms over there. Instead, a temporary shower/toilet/sink unit have been set up downstairs. Things actually worked pretty well with the bathroom next door – having to go over there was slightly annoying, but nothing I couldn’t deal with and it was always free when I needed it (there were two flats each with two bathrooms, which meant a total of four toilets and two showers available (plus two bathtubs)). Now there is one shower/toilet for everyone who is left in the building and today, on the very first day of having to use it, our upstairs neighbour went in there right as I was about to go downstairs. So tomorrow I’ll be getting up even earlier. (Jan, meanwhile, opted to get up a little earlier this morning and use the showers at his work.) Surprisingly though, the shower situation isn’t what annoys me most. The most annoying thing – apart from having to be up early on Saturday – is the dust. It’s everywhere! The dust sheets on the doors do a reasonable job of keeping most of it out, but they can’t stop it from being tracked in on our feet. And given that we have to walk through the dusty corridor no matter which room we want to enter the dust always follows. The second most annoying thing is that they’ve done something to the electricity so even though the trip switch is on there is no electricity in our bedroom. Getting ready for bed by the light of my phone torch is not my idea of fun…

Only this week and next week to get through and then we’re on holiday. We can do this! (She said, hopefully.)

Further dispatches from the building site

Hello! After publishing my last post about our current living situation I thought it might be nice to make a little series out of it to document the progress that’s being made. Given that tomorrow is a holiday and the builders will therefore not be coming, tonight seemed like a good time for another report as the state right now is what we’ll be living with on our day off work.

First I want to show you the sink I mentioned in my previous post:

construction8

Washing dishes is a pain, which is why we’ve been eating out a lot.

That pipe in the kitchen has now been enclosed, and today some cupboards appeared. Yay!

I mean, so far they have no door handles and don’t seem to be attached, but you’ve got to take what you can get.

Here are the bathrooms. Apparently they just aren’t going to bother removing the tiles in the second one. Whatever. As long as I don’t have to see them any more in all their 80s glory 😉

The corridor is absolutely full of stuff, which I’m hoping means even more progress will be made on Thursday. (It also has no electricity so excuse the terrible lighting).

So, something has definitely happened since my last post but we still have a way to go. Here’s to the next few weeks going fast!

Greetings from the building site!

Last year we were informed that our building, which was built in 1986, was going to be renovated this year. Last month, as I mentioned in this post, the windows and radiators were replaced. Then this week the main part of the work started… the replacement of the bathrooms and kitchens.

First, the builders covered our entire corridor in wooden boards topped with dust sheets. The doors also got their own special dust sheet type things, with zips to allow us to still go through them.

The doors leaning against the well belong to the bathrooms. They will eventually be getting painted and returned to their rightful places.

Our shower used to be in the left-hand corner of this room, with the toilet on the right:

construction3

The room that used to contain the bath still has one wall of tiles but has acquired some cryptic markings:

construction4

Here’s the kitchen. The big silver pipe in the corner wasn’t there yesterday… progress, I guess?

construction5

They put a “wall” between the kitchen and the dining/living area to try and keep the rooms that aren’t being renovated somewhat usable. The first photo shows it from the kitchen side, the other is from the dining room.

Note the fridge in the second photo… we are at least allowed to keep that until the new one is in.

And moving left from the fridge, here’s where we’ve put all the food and kitchen equipment we thought we might need in the next few weeks…

construction-kitchen stuff

We’ve been given a hotplate so we can attempt to cook and there’s a sink attached to the railing in the stairwell (I should have taken a photo of that for you as well) where we can theoretically wash dishes – although it’s slightly awkward. We also have a portable toilet, which is exactly as wonderful as it sounds (/sarcasm). For now, however, we  can use the shower and toilet in one of the empty buildings next door (for reference, our building is split into three separate addresses, each with its own entrance, but down in the cellar there are connected doors so we can get into the other “buildings” without actually going outside). That will change when it’s their turn to have everything ripped out in two weeks, but by then temporary showers and toilets are supposed to have been installed in our showers. I’m curious to see how that’s going to work.

So, things are a little chaotic around here and I’m pretty sure we won’t be spending much of the weekend at home. However, on the bright side, the first week is already done and we survived. Just another three and then we’ll be on holiday for a week, and by the time we come back they should be basically finished. Hurrah!

Oh, and if you were wondering, I’m not working from home while all this is going on. I’ve rented a desk in a “co-working space”, which is slightly different to what I’m used to. New experiences all round!

I hope everything is much more normal in your lives, dear readers (I type, while muttering to myself: this too shall pass).

February 2019 recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second monthly recap of 2019. February has mostly been the month of boiling the kettle multiple times but never actually making a cup of tea, or making tea but not getting round to taking the teabag out, resulting in a ridiculously strong, lukewarm cuppa that I only managed to drink half of. I need to set a timer on my phone or something so I don’t end up getting so immersed in my work that I forget I actually put the kettle on.

Anyway, it is the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to link up with the wonderful Kristen for What’s New With You?

whats new with you

We started February in England. We flew over on 31st January and then spent most of the 1st February in my dad’s house waiting for our suitcase. Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed resulting in a short connection, so while we made it onto the second flight the suitcase didn’t. According to KLM, the courier was supposed to call to arrange a time, but he didn’t and so we waited. I took the opportunity to go through some of my stuff that was still at my dad’s, which he was pleased about. We ended up with about 30 books, a pile of CDs and a few DVDs that I didn’t want any more. Handily, a charity bag then came through the door specifically requesting books, DVDs, CDs and ornaments – usually they’re all for clothes – so that was cool. And I found a CD of photos that I spent ages looking for last year when my cousin wanted photos of our grandma… I knew it existed somewhere! It immediately went in my bag to come back to Switzerland with us. In the evening we had a table booked for a meal to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday (which was on 27th January). The suitcase hadn’t arrived by the time we had to leave but luckily I had put clean underwear in my hand luggage and the clothes I wore on the plane weren’t too terrible ;-). Plus my dad had a spare, unused toothbrush and my uncle picked one up for Jan while he was shopping, so we were at least clean and presentable. The suitcase finally showed up at about 8pm – we were at the pub so my dad’s partner signed for it.

The next day, finally wearing clean clothes, we met up with my mum and brother. We had lunch at a Wetherspoons (non-Brits: a cheap-and-cheerful pub chain that does alright food for a reasonable price) then went for a walk along the river – parts of which were frozen totally solid! When my brother had to go to work the rest of us went back to my mum’s, picked up my sister’s dog (who was staying there while my sister and brother-in-law were in Venice) and then had a walk up to the churchyard where my grandparents are buried. It’s also where Emily Wilding Davison is buried… claim to fame! (If you don’t know your history, that’s the suffragette who was killed by the king’s horse.) Tea was an Indian take away, before my mum drove us back to my dad’s house to finish packing. On Sunday morning we ate bacon sandwiches then my dad drove us to the airport. I brought a few books back with me, including my Narnia box set that I want to reread this year. There is still an entire bookcase full of books that I intend to bring to Switzerland at some point… I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled Jan is about that ;-). For some reason my dad also gave me two packets of mini malt loafs to take with me. I mean, I like malt loaf but it’s not something I particularly miss or crave. It did make a good breakfast for a few days though so I’m not complaining.

Emily Wilding Davison

On 5th February, it was 15 years since Jan and I got together. Unfortunately he had to work late so I celebrated by eating alone, finishing a book and almost finishing another. My perfect evening, tbh. He came home with chocolates for me and we ate the heart-shaped dessert I had bought (the perks of having an anniversary close to Valentine’s Day) the next evening. We then celebrated properly by going for a meal on the Saturday. We went to a restaurant called Rubino where the concept is set menus that are a surprise. You can choose meat or vegetarian and two, three, four or five courses. We went for four courses and I vowed to eat everything they gave me (unless it was hard boiled eggs, which make me sick). I did indeed eat everything – including the mushroom course. There were three types of mushrooms and I can’t say I enjoyed any of them. The pepper encrusted cheese and quince pieces that came with them were delicious though. For drinks, we went with the wine accompaniment, which meant a different wine with each course, selected by the restaurant.  I took zero photos because I just wanted to be in the moment and celebrate our anniversary so you’ll just have to believe me when I say everything looked and tasted delicious (except the mushrooms!). Sunday was rainy and windy so we had a lazy day. I stitched a design for my cousin’s wedding card (no photo because it had their names on it) and finished a book. We were planning to go to the quiz but the friend we were meeting didn’t want to venture into the storm so we stayed home and ordered take away instead. Jan watched TV and I started another book (Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers, if you’re interested).

The following weekend “Show Us Your Books” hosts Jana and Steph organised a readathon. I had never taken part in a readathon before! It was very relaxed – basically start reading at any point on the Friday (in my case it had to wait until after work), finish at any point on the Sunday, post photos on Twitter or Instagram and tag the hosts. Jan had an all-day choir rehearsal on the Sunday so it was the perfect day to do nothing but read. That Saturday was also Photo and Hour day – you can see my hourly photos here.

And then it was the last weekend of the month. Craziness. After January seemed to drag on for a thousand years, February felt like it was over in a flash. I mean, I know it’s the shortest month, but there were still supposedly four whole weeks in there! I actually had the Thursday and Friday off since I needed to use up two days of holiday from last year before they expired, so it was a long weekend for me. Thursday was appointments all day, so I was only really home for lunch then dinner. Friday was my monthly deep-clean day – second month in a row that I’ve cleaned the oven. Go me! Then Jan came home from work on the Friday and suggested we go somewhere the next day. He suggested Lugano and since it’s a bit far to do justice to in a single day we spontaneously decided to book a hotel and have a weekend away. Saturday was cloudy, Sunday less so, and both days were warm. It was honestly just nice to get away and have a relaxing break, just the two of us.

In between weekends I worked. A lot. This is becoming a theme. At least I’m collecting plenty of overtime, which may be useful at some point. And actually this week has been a lot quieter so maybe March will be the month of normal working hours? I managed to drink more water in February, which is something, but I didn’t manage to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day – or even most days. Must try harder with that!

And that was my month. Going forward, I feel like I want to try out a new format for these catch-up posts because this recapping (mainly) weekends feels like a lot of uninteresting text to force you to read. We’ll see. For this month I’m afraid you’re stuck with my ramblings 😉

Why not visit the link up and see what the rest of blog land has been doing recently? And while you’re at it maybe write a post and link up yourself. Or just tell me what’s new with you in the comments.

January 2019

Ah, January. The month that should have been my last one at work before going on maternity leave. Instead it’s just the start of what feels like it’s going to be a long year. I mean, there’s still a chance I could end up with a baby in 2019, a December baby could still happen, but it’s hard to believe I’ll ever be able to conceive again when some days I find it hard to believe I ever conceived in the first place. A combination of that, the cold, dark days and the relentlessness of work made it difficult to be positive. Mostly I was just tired. I either need a holiday or spring to hurry up… or a combination of both. I’m okay though. Some days are just hard.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about what I got up to in January. And to link up with Kristen, of course, because link ups seem to be the only thing I post these days!?

whats new with you

We started the year with a slow day. I mean, we were up relatively early to have breakfast with a friend who had stayed the night, but neither of us actually left the house on 1st January. We watched something. I don’t remember what. The BFG? Or was that in December? Maybe it was The Jungle Book. No clue. Then I started my first book of the year, which was Far from the Madding Crowd if you’re interested. It took me days to finish.

2nd January was my last day of freedom, and Jan was also off because it’s a holiday in Zurich. Berchtold’s Day. Don’t ask me! We got a car and drove to Einsiedeln. There’s a big abbey there that I can only show you the outside of because you’re not supposed to take photos of the inside. Some people were, of course, but I am a good girl ;-). There was snow, so that was nice… but cold! We then went to a café and had hot chocolate and cake. We wanted to drive to Glarus then to Lake Lucerne and finally to Schwyz, but once we got to Glarus we discovered that the pass to get to the lake was closed and we had to drive back the way we had come. We stopped at a shopping centre where we found some mini drawers for my craft stuff then we drove to the motorway and just came straight back to Basel. Schwyz will have to wait for another day.

Einsiedeln Abbey

My first day back at work was a long one because I had to be in the office on my 2nd day, meaning I worked 9.5 hours on my first day back to make up for only working 6.5 hours the following day (and even though my working day is shorter when I go into the office, it’s a two-hour train ride to get there, so overall the day is longer). I was so glad my first day back was a Thursday and the weekend came after a mere two days!

The first weekend of the year was pretty uneventful. On the Saturday we went to the furniture shop where we bought the light for our “home office”. It hasn’t been working properly for a while and Jan wanted to ask them about it. There’s another branch of the place where we bought the mini drawers in the same area so we also went there and bought a third set. I finished reading Far from the Madding Crowd and started my second book of the year. Sunday was going to be the day the tree came down (6th January… it’s the tradition) but we discovered it wouldn’t be picked up until the 14th so we decided to let it stay for another week. Last year we took the tree down on the 6th then realised too late we had to wait 2 weeks for another collection day so it sat on the balcony for ages and dropped needles everywhere. So this year it stayed. I did take down most of the other decorations on the 6th though. And we hung this year’s calendar… most likely the last time it will show the correct month until about April (typing this has reminded me that 7 days into February it hasn’t been changed yet). I started stitching my grandma’s birthday card then stopped when I ran out of the right thread colours – the two colours I needed to complete it were ordered but hadn’t arrived yet.

drawers
Jan took the legs off two of the sets of drawers so I could stack them

The following weekend was a fairly boring one. Saturday was mostly housework and I wrote two pen pal letters… I’m way behind on my replies! Sunday we took the tree down ready for collection the next day. The living room looks so boring and empty. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card hadn’t arrived, so instead I started cross stitching a motif to make a birthday card for a friend’s son. I still haven’t actually made the card and his birthday is in 8 days so I need to get a move on. While I stitched we continued watching Season 2 of Pushing Daisies.

On weekend number three, Saturday happened to be photo an hour day. You can see my hourly photos here. It was sunny, so in the afternoon we decided to take a drive out. We went to Burgdorf in Emmental. The castle turned out to be closed for renovation so we didn’t stay long. We then drove towards the mountains but it got dark fairly quickly so we didn’t stop anywhere else, just took the scenic route back to the motorway then came home. We watched the final episode of Pushing Daisies while eating dinner. I am so mad that it was cancelled. There are things I need answers to! Sunday was a lazy day. I started cross stitching a unicorn that would later become a card for a Post Pals child and we watched some random stuff on TV, including Tatort. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card finally arrived the next day (Monday), so I spent that evening working hard to get it finished so it could be posted.

On the fourth and final weekend of the year, Jan had a choir rehearsal weekend so I had the place to myself. Saturday was the first deep-clean day of the year… I’m determined to at least keep that resolution (not doing so well on the drinking water one). I changed the bedding, cleaned the oven, hoovered and mopped, scrubbed the shower. I also picked up a prescription and took books to a free public bookcase. Not bad! Sunday was my grandma’s 80th birthday, so I called her, of course. (We spent the following weekend in England so we could celebrate with her, but that’s for February’s recap.)

In between weekends I worked, shopped, cleaned. I’ve been cooking a lot of soups/stews/broths lately – it’s the only way to cope with the grey miserableness of January. That and chocolate, which I’ve definitely consumed too much of recently. Thankfully all the Christmas junk food is finally gone so I can stop making a pig of myself now…

So that was January. February is a short month and then March brings my due date, two days later it would have been my other grandma’s 90th birthday and at the end of the month it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Can’t wait to get that one over with!

I hope your January was a good one. How’s everyone doing with their yearly goals so far? Don’t tell me you’ve all given up already 😉 Check out the link up to see what’s new with everyone else.