It’s wardrobe Wednesday!

In April, we finally managed to find and order a wardrobe that we liked. We were told they had a slot for delivery in June(!!). Three weeks ago, the wardrobe finally arrived, but without the back wall so it couldn’t be put together. Today, two men from the furniture company turned up with a back wall and finished the job! After a year and two months in our new home, I can finally finish unpacking my clothes!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!


A Photo an Hour: 23rd May 2015

Saturday was photo an hour day again, hosted by Jane and Louise. My first one in Switzerland! Here’s what I got up to:

10 a.m. I’m up! Instead of starting yet another photo an hour post with a picture of a cup of tea, I went with my slippers. Immediately after taking this I of course put the kettle on πŸ˜€

11 a.m. Haven’t moved from the sofa yet! Here’s a photo of some of the creatures that live there.

12 noon. Jan got up and put the kettle on again, so I decide to have another cuppa before going for my shower.

1 p.m. Showered and dressed, time to dry my hair.

2 p.m. Midday quiet time is over, so now we’re allowed to put together the spare bed. But first these boxes need to get out of the way.

3 p.m. Space cleared, now to do something with these bed parts! (Or so I thought, what actually happened was I took the picture while Jan hoovered the space where the bed was going to go. Then I said I was going to see if we had any mail, Jan asked me to pop to the shop for milk and I returned to find him sitting at the table claiming he hadn’t been able to find the bits for the bed (screws, etc.) 20 minutes of searching in boxes later, I went and examined the bed only to find the parts already attached to it! Apparently he hadn’t looked particularly far. So we were finally ready to start assembling the bed just in time for the next photo…)

4 p.m. This is the way we assemble a bed!

5 p.m. Finished! All I need to do now is wash the quilt cover and another pillow case, then we’ll be ready for visitors.

6 p.m. Watching a bit of Celebrity Mastermind.

7 p.m. Tea nearly ready. Vegetable chilli in case anyone is wondering. We ate it with tortilla wraps and a tonne of cheese.

8 p.m. Loading the dishwasher. I love my dishwasher!

9 p.m. Eurovision time! Snacks and drinks at the ready.

10 p.m. Watching Eurovision. Perfect timing with this picture πŸ˜€ (The cartoon men were my favourite part of Sweden’s entry)

11 p.m. Still Eurovisioning, still drinking.

Midnight. Finally points time! The end is in sight.

1 a.m. I went to put my pyjamas on and took a photo of the bed I was preparing to get into (say hi to Eeyore!). I then went back to the living room, where Jan had insisted on turning on the computer for a work thing. Yawn! By 1.30 p.m I was in bed though, so the last photo of the day still fits.

So, that was a typical Saturday in Switzerland. New country, but not much difference (as evidenced by my this photo an hour post from February). Photo and hour takes place every month. If you want to take part next time, keep an hour on Jane and Louisa’s blogs, Is That You Darling and Duck in a Dress, and also the hash tag #photoanhour on Twitter.

Friday letters

I decided to finish work an hour early today, because I had an hour of overtime I could use and I’d run out of work to do. And thanks to Whit Monday, it’s another long weekend. May really is the best month for public holidays (although it only has 3 this year because the fourth has crept into June due to Easter being later)

Here are some Friday letters for you.

MailboxDear Amt fΓΌr Migration. Please hurry up and do whatever bureaucratic things it is you do so I can find out whether I’m allowed to stay in Switzerland!

Dear weather. Please keep your promise of being nice on Sunday. We want to go up a mountain somewhere!

Dear right thigh. I have no idea what I’ve done to you to make the muscle feel sore, but please stop it so I can walk around on the aforementioned mountain on Sunday!

Dear Swiss cheese. You are far too irresistible and definitely not doing my waistline any good!

Dear spare bed. Hopefully we will actually get round to putting you together tomorrow…

Peering bird
Peering bird

Dear birds. I can hear you cheeping outside as I type and it’s so adorable!

Dear clothes. I’m sorry most of you are still in boxes/suitcases. I promise we’ll buy a wardrobe for you soon!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Have a great (long) weekend everybody. I hope you have fun plans!

Let me show you my new neighbourhood

Well, not exactly. I’m not daft enough to show you my actual street or anything πŸ˜‰ But I did take a photo from my balcony so you can all see how green and natural it is outside my window. Sadly, birds don’t really like to stay still so this is the best I could do:

BirdUgh, so blurry! Hopefully soon we will get a bird feeder so I can entice my feathered friends to come right up to my balcony. That tree is standing in a little “garden” area (some grass with a hedge around it which I haven’t figured out whether we’re actually allowed to go in yet) and beyond that is the street my building is located on, although you can’t actually access it from the street. If you look out the window at the other side of our flat, you can see more trees plus a kind of courtyard that’s between two building complexes – ours and the one opposite are connected by an underground parking garage that’s below the buildings and both complexes belong to a hospital in Basel. Apparently this kind of thing is common (hospitals randomly owning and renting out apartment blocks I mean, not parking garages under courtyards). The courtyard is where you enter the building. Here have a photo of a random street near mine. Because I won’t sure you a photo of my home but I have zero problem posting one of somebody else’s. Note all the trees/green plants. That’s pretty typical for the area we’re living in. (Also, construction. But ignore that.)

StreetTechnically, we don’t actually live in Basel proper, by which I mean Basel city. After looking at multiple flats there, we ended up extended our range to the surrounding towns in Basel-Landschaft (that’s the other Basel half canton – a canton being something like a German Bundesland/federal state. Basel and a few others are split in two, so you get half cantons. Obviously.). The place we ended up getting is in a small town (village?) just over the border from Basel city. But, although it’s technically Basel-Landschaft, we’re so close to Basel that it’s more like living in a suburb than a separate town. Just as an example, the tram to Basel Swiss train station (Basel SBB) takes 8 minutes – which is pretty much exactly as long as the tram journey to the train station took from my old flat in Karlsruhe (the one before Jan and I moved in together). Also, we’re only a couple of tram stops (or 10 minutes walk) from the zoo, which is clearly important πŸ˜‰ Sadly, there are no red pandas at this one. Just around the corner from us is a little stream. It’s close enough that I can walk along it in my lunch break if I want to, and in fact the photo below was taken during a lunch break when I decided to walk along the stream to get to the post office (actually just a post counter in a supermarket, but the actual post office closes over lunch time!)


Slightly nicer than walking along beside the tram tracks or down a street that’s in the process of being dug up, which would have been the alternatives to the route along the stream. Also, remember when I said my perfect rainy day would involve going to see ducks during a lull in the rain? Totally possible from our new home!

Back at Easter, when I went down for a visit, we decided to go and find the local woods. It turned out they were only about a 20 minute walk from our flat! Here’s a mouse (I think?) that we spied on our walk:

Mouse?I was so proud of myself for managing to get that shot. Yay for my new camera!
There are various supermarkets close to our new flat. On the main street there’s a Coop, which I haven’t actually been to yet. Then just down the road from that is a Migros, which I have been to. Supposedly Migros is the cheaper of the two, which is why I’ve only been there although Jan occasionally stops at Coop in town on the way home from work. 10 minutes walk in the other direction (along the stream) there’s a Denner – the discount supermarket I told you about in a previous post. The relative cheapness there brings the prices down to about level with a non-discount supermarket in Germany, but it’s still better than doing all my shopping at Migros! I will still have to continue shopping at the expensive places though because Denner doesn’t see everything I want. Or at least that one doesn’t. And I don’t mean exotic things either… I’m talking things like tins of kidney beans! Apart from that, there’s a Migrolino in the neighbourhood. For those of you who are familiar with the UK, it’s comparable to a Tesco Express – basically a smaller supermarket that doesn’t sell everything but is conveniently located with better opening hours that normal supermarkets. Our particular Migrolino is open 365 days a year (so even on Christmas!) until 9 p.m. I don’t know if that’s common to all Migrolinos though.

This is my local Denner
This is my local Denner

So, nature in one direction, Basel proper in the other and excellent tram connections. What more could we need? Oh, and it’s also possible to walk to the Tinguely fountain in 25-30 minutes – we checked. Not bad at all! I don’t know what else to say, so just have some more pictures instead. Some are more “my” neighbourhood than others – a few are over the border in Basel Stadt.

So, that’s where I live now. Pretty isn’t it?

Switzerland – one week on

I’ve been in Switzerland a week now, so let’s recap what I’ve discovered so far shall we?

  • Everything is expensive (except taxes – Jan pays much lower taxes here than in Germany). I’ve already showed you what I got from a normal supermarket for 34 francs, and all the cocktails I’ve seen so far have cost 15 francs (€14.36 or Β£10.62).
  • However, I have discovered the Swiss cheap supermarket chain! It’s called Denner and you can tell the minute you walk in that it’s a discount supermarket – think shelves crammed full of stuff in no discernible order and definitely no signs explaining what’s down which aisle. If you’ve ever been to Aldi you’ll know what I mean. But I don’t care how the stuff is laid out as long as it means spending less. The nearest Denner is roughly a 9 minute walk from our flat so that’s alright. There are Aldis too, but they’re few and far between and I’m yet to discover one near me.
  • Migros sells Tetley teabags in boxes of 100! Not that I’m particularly bothered about having Tetley teabags specifically, but I do prefer my teabags to come in decent amounts rather than the pathetic little boxes of 20-25 I’ve been used to from Germany. Not that I’ll be needing teabags for a while – I’m still working on the bag of 250 that I bought from the Asia shop in Karlsruhe πŸ˜‰
  • Free public toilets actually exist! At least in Basel they do. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of my readers, but those of you who’ve lived in Germany (where toilets usually cost 50 cents and can even go up to 1 euro – looking at you, Mannheim train station!) will understand.
  • Public transport – at least in Basel – is excellent. There are 2 trams that will take me home from the city and so far I’ve never had to wait more than 3 minutes for one of the 2 to turn up.
  • People in “service” positions – e.g. supermarkets, post office and the Gemeindeverwaltung (municipal authority) – are happy to switch to something closer to high German if they notice you struggling to understand their Swiss German (however, the same cannot be said for the building management people who showed me round when I was still looking at flats!)
  • The fine for drivers who do not stop for pedestrians at a zebra crossing is ridiculously high – which is why they all stop if you even look like you might be going to cross. It’s just like being back in Britain. Although the stripes are black and yellow, not black and white… does that make them tiger crossings? πŸ˜‰

That’s all I can think of today. Next week I’ll give you a tour of my new neighbourhood – if it ever stops raining long enough for me to get out and take some photos for you!

Gotta love the Liebster Award

I wanted to finally catch up on my final few weeks in Germany and share some photos from a day out that I arranged as part of my 35 before 35, but although the card reader is sitting here on the computer desk I can’t find the cable for it so no photo uploading for me! Instead I’ll go with another post that I’ve been needing to write for a while…

I was nominated for the Liebster Award again… this time by Holly from Full of Beans and Sausages. She nominated me weeks ago, but I’ve been putting off answering because her questions are haaaard! Thank you Holly. I’m happy that you think I’m worthy of this award.
And now the questions:

1) What is your favourite room in your house?

Since I’ve literally just moved it’s probably a little early to tell. But I’m going to go with the dining/living/kitchen area (it’s all one big space) because that’s where the balcony is, and also where my books live. Of course the books’ home is my favourite!

2) What is your life plan for the next 5 years?

See what I mean? Haaaard questions! Well, I am very much hoping that Jan will continue to enjoy his job and things will go well enough that we’ll still be in Basel in five years. However, it is a fairly small company so it may be that at some point he wants to move on to something a bit bigger? It’s difficult to judge right now, although so far things are going well. In the meantime, I’ll continue working at my company for now, then hopefully within the next 1-2 years we’ll have our first child (Dear family members who are reading: do not hold me to that!! I have no idea whether it will work out. And no, I’m not currently pregnant!). Obviously my plan involves Jan and I staying together for the next 5 years. Oh, and a puppy. Beyond that I honestly have no idea, and thinking about it kind of scares me so I’m stopping now!

3) Describe a typical day from when you were a child.

Wow, again a question that’s surprisingly difficult. Typical days are hard to remember! I suppose it would have to be a week day, since weekends/holidays were never typical, so I’ll do a school day. It would start with my mum shouting to my sister and I to get up for school. We’d take turns in the bathroom, then dress in our school uniforms before heading downstairs. Breakfast was always cereal – usually something like Frosties or Coco Pops. Then it was back upstairs, teeth brushed, downstairs again for our shoes and coats and we’d head off to school. When we were really little my mum took us, but by the time I was 9 we walked together with some friends from our estate (when we lived in Northern Ireland, my mum always walked me to and fom school – my sister was still in nursery then). School consisted of morning lessons followed by first break, where everybody had to eat fruit. Us girls would skip or play clapping rhymes, then it was back into school for more lessons. I was on packed lunches for most of my time at primary school, which meant second sittings, so at lunch time I would go out to play first then come in for my lunch when the first bell went. If we ate quickly enough we would then have more time to play after lunch. This was followed by afternoon lessons then home time. The ice cream van always stopped on a road close to the school right around home time and anyone who had money would buy something. Usually I did not have money,but sometimes a friend would take pity and lend me ten pence for a WHAM bar (who remembers those?). Back home, we had to immediately change out of our school uniforms and do any homework we had. Then, if it was a nice day, we would go outside to play until my mum called us in for tea. On rainy days, we watched children’s TV… back in the days when there was only half an hour of children’s TV after school and not entire channels for it! Tea would be something like sausages, beans and chips or fish fingers and vegetables. There was hardly ever dessert, but the fruit bowl was always full and if we were still hungry after tea we could help ourselves. Then it was time to get our bags ready for school the next day and get into our night clothes. Sometimes we would watch TV again, but usually we just played in our rooms. At bed time, I always begged to be allowed to read for a bit and the answer was almost always yes. Then, after half an hour, it was lights out and no more talking (I shared a room with my sister). Then it all began again the next day. That’s how I remember it anyway. The details may be off.

4) Tell us about the most unforgettable moment from your life.

Hogmany in Edinburgh. Not really a moment, but the whole trip was fabulous. From the torch-lit procession from the Royal Mile to the top of Calton Hill (proceeds from those who bought a torch went to charity) to the candle-light carol service in St. Giles Cathedral on New Year’s Eve to seeing KT Tunstall live in Princes Gardens on 1 January for a mere 11 pounds. So far, no new year’s trip has beaten it – although Brussels comes close (Madeira was fantastic, but Edinburgh wins on actual New Year celebrations)

5) Tell us about the worst idea you ever had.

Numbing the top of my ear with ice cubes before letting my friend attempt to pierce it with a safety pin (that we had “disinfected” using bleach). Luckily it hurt too much and I made her stop, otherwise I’m sure the end of the story would have involved an infected ear and antibiotics. As it is, it’s fairly boring. Sorry! (The time I got drunk at 17 and threw up all over myself in the toilets of a pub was also a close contender, but smuggling in a bottle of vodka wasn’t actually my idea so…)

6) What can you see out of the window you are sat at right now?

I’m not at a window! Hold on, let me just go to one…. okay, I see part of the outside wall of our spare bedroom (which is currently full of boxes waiting to be unpacked and a bed that hasn’t been put together yet), the building opposite and some trees. If I look a bit to the right, beyond that building, I can see some of the houses on the hill.

7) What qualities do you like to have in a best friend?

Honesty (if I’m being stupid I want them to tell me!), loyalty and a good sense of humour! Also, they need to be slightly weird because normal people don’t like me.

8) If you could live in any era of history which would it be and why?

50s so I could wear clothing that actually suits my body shape! Although the whole not working and being expected to be a perfect housewife thing would get old fast! Actually, I wouldn’t mind living in a few eras for a while just to experience first-hand what it was like. Maybe a year in the 20s, then some time in the 60s with the hippies before popping back to the time of the industrial revolution and experiencing for myself what it was like when the very first steam train appeared…

9) How would you spend $100 right now?

I would buy something new for our flat. We still need quite a bit but it has to be a gradual process because Switzerland is expensive! If someone randomly gave me $100, I’d probably buy balcony furniture (not the highest priority item but the most fun!)

10) Today is the first day of the rest of your life – what will you do differently today?

Well, first of all I would like to say that I now have the Green Day song “Church on Sunday” in my head (it starts with “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives!, okay? YouTube it!).
What would I do differently? The same thing I plan to do differently every day – be positive, enjoy the little moments, greet Jan properly when he comes home (instead of just chucking a “hi” over my shoulder while attempting to cook and do multiple other things all at once), keep on top of stuff throughout the day so I wouldn’t need to be multitasking as Jan walked in the door. Hopefully this will also all actually happen now that I’m not commuting for an hour every day. (I’m not counting this week because I’ve been on holiday which is never the same as normal life).

And now for my questions.

1. What is one thing you’re really good at?
2. What is one of your favourite memories?
3. What was your first pet? (If you’ve never had a pet, what pet would have liked to have?)
4. What’s the weirdest search term that’s ever found your blog?
5. How did you come up with your blog’s name?
6. Which is your favourite blog post you’ve written? And which is your least favourite?
6. Who is your favourite singer/band?
7. Where do you want to travel to next?
8. What was your favourite book as a child?
9. What is your favourite flower?
10. If you could have any name other than your actual one, what would you choose?

That’s it! Sorry I’m so boring πŸ˜‰ And now I nominate:

Kaelene from Unlocking Kiki
Diana from Life in German
Briony from Fear of the Reaper
Allane from Packing my Suitcase

Have fun, guys!

Let’s talk about Swiss prices

So, I made it to Switzerland! I actually managed to get all the cleaning done in time and the move itself went smoothly. It was a looong day though, hence no blog post last night.

I’ve got this week off to get settled in, so since Jan is at work, I went shopping today. Here’s what I bought:


That little lot cost me 34 Swiss francs, which is 32 euros and 82 cents or 23 pounds 49p. I think it’s about time Jan got his first Swiss pay check!