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!

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25 Food Questions Tag

I totally stole this tag from Kerri because I’m just too tiiiired to do another travel post right now. All that sorting of photos – ugh! Food, on the other hand, I can do. Here goes:

1. What’s your favourite breakfast?

A full English or Irish breakfast, obviously. Not that I would want to eat that every day, but as a special treat, mmmm! Failing that a bacon sarnie with proper English bacon.

Full Irish breakfast
Full Irish breakfast

2. How do you drink your coffee?

With all the milk. If I can’t have one that’s more milk than coffee I need to add all the sugar. I also like horribly sweet concoctions à la Starbucks except not actually Starbucks because I don’t go there.

3. What’s on your favourite sandwich?

Don’t you mean in? No open-topped sarnies over here please! Feta, avocado and rocket please! Or bacon with brown sauce.

4. Soup or Salad?

Well it clearly depends on the weather, doesn’t it? Soup if it’s cold, salad when it’s too hot to cook (or I’m too lazy).

soup

5. What’s your favourite cookbook?

I have one called Healthy Eats that’s pretty good, but realistically all my recipes come from the Internet soo… BBC Good Food?

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?

I think it has to be sweets. I would miss chocolate, but I would miss mashed potatoes more!

7. What’s your favourite Cuisine?

Probably Indian, but British-style Indian. I’d have to go to India to decide whether I like the real deal.

8. What’s your favourite food movie?

I totally have to steal Kerri’s answer here and say Ratatouille because the only other food film I can think of is Chocolat and I hated that! (Book is so much better!)

9. What’s your most guilty pleasure?

Umm… I don’t know? There’s nothing I feel guilty about eating (well, other than too much and that could be too much of almost anything. Except maybe lettuce leaves.)

10. What’s your greatest inspiration source?

I feel bad that I’m stealing all of Kerri’s answers, but my stomach is just so perfect a response! Failing that my inspiration comes from whatever random stuff we have lying around after I’ve failed to go shopping again.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?

Cooking and having to deal with the mess or letting someone else do all the work? I prefer the latter. Although I actually do enjoy cooking for friends (Christmas dinner for 9 anyone?) so what I’m really saying is I would rather not have to cook every single day after work (but life would rapidly get expensive if we always ate out instead. So unfair)

12. High end or low profile?

I don’t understand the question… high end is expensive, right? But what’s low profile? Like a place nobody else knows about? Those two things aren’t opposites, are they? I’m so confused!

13. What’s your favourite restaurant?

I don’t have one – I like to keep trying new ones.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:

One of two local supermarkets. One is closer, the other sells the teabags I like. Sometimes I go to Aldi but it’s on the other side of Basel so it rarely happens.

Denner
Not the supermarket I usually go to, but the only one I have a photo of.

15. The tastiest food I’ve ever eaten was:

EVER?! That’s a lot of food for you to expect me to just pick one thing from…

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?

I had to google the Heston guy… apparently he’s a TV chef? Neither, really but if I absolutely have to pick one then George Clooney just because I still love E.R.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?

A freezer. I didn’t have one for about 3 years and it was so annoying!

19. What is your favourite snack?

All the British crisps… Monster Munch, Wotsits, Skips, Hula Hoops. Sadly I almost never get to eat them.

20. What’s on your pizza?

It really depends what I’m in the mood for, but bacon, yellow peppers and feta is a good combo. Plus the normal pizza cheese of course.

21. What food do you really dislike?

Broccoli – it’s the devil. Also sweetcorn, green peppers, mushrooms and liver.

22. What’s your favourite food blog?

Don’t know… don’t read any.

23. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oyster omelette. Also the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. Maybe that should have been the answer to question 21?

24. What’s on your food bucket list?

Drink champagne in Champagne and port in Porto. Yes I’m aware those are drinks, but so is coffee. I also want to eat frog’s legs in France… there, I included a food!

25. I couldn’t live without:

Potatoes. I will also accept sweet potatoes as a substitute.

I tag everyone who feels like telling me about their eating habits. And now, appropriately, I’m off to find something to cook for dinner.

Friday letters

This week has confused me by being both really slow and really fast at the same time! I’ve spent most of it completely confused about what day it was. I’m not confused today though… it’s most definitely Friday, and that means letters!

Friday letters

 

Dear birds. I’m glad you seem to like your feeders and the seeds we’ve been putting out for you. It’s cold out now, so eat up!

Dear cactus. Sorry I over watered you yesterday. My hand slipped. Please don’t die!

Dear new cabinet. I can’t wait to fill you up with all my cross stitch supplies!

Dear Dylan Moran. Our tickets have arrived and we shall be at your show on 30th January. Woo hoo!

Dear boyfriend’s work. Hurry up and approve his holiday so we can book flights. Don’t you know we’re planning the trip of a lifetime? 😉

Have a great and hopefully not too cold) weekend everyone!

 

Friday (the 13th) letters

Good morning! Today is Friday the 13th, which is my favourite date! I’m not sure why – maybe because everyone else hates it? In fact, I was just lamenting to Jan last night that I won’t get to have a Friday the 13th birthday for aaaages! It should have been next year. but I am to be foiled by the stupid leap year. Gah! He then suggested that I could celebrate my 32-and-a-quarter birthday today 😉 I wouldn’t though. Or would I…?

letters

Dear birds. We still haven’t bought you a feeder. I’m so sorry! But at least it’s currently still unusually warm and you are hopefully able to find food elsewhere.

Dear scales. Finally the number you’re showing me is lower! Not as low as I would like, but we can’t have everything. At least I’m now back below my highest ever weight!

Dear vegetables. Healthy eating would be so much easier if you were as addictive as cheese!

Dear readers. I’m sorry I’m making you wait so long for the reveal of my cross stitch guessing game. I didn’t expect it to take so long to finish!

Dear self. When the DHL man makes a comment that there’s “always something for you” it’s probably time to stop ordering random stuff from the Internet!

Dear Jan’s mum, my cousin and my first cousin once removed (that’s you, Anna!). Happy birthday to all of you for tomorrow! Apparently 14th November is a popular date to be born 😉

Right, that’s all from me. I do actually have to work you know 😉 Have a good Friday and a fabulous weekend!

Brain dump

This is one of those posts where I choose the bullet point option then just spill whatever thoights are buzzing round in my brain that aren’t enough to make an entire blog post by themselves. Basically, it’s one big confusing mess. Here goes…

  • I recently received a letter from my favourite penpal (yes, I’m in my 30s and have penpals. Don’t judge!) saying she doesn’t want to write to me anymore. Apparently she doesn’t like the style of my letters because she wants to have a “conversation” with her penpals and she doesn’t get that with me (this is me translating – we write wrote 😦 to each other in German). I suppose it’s mainly my fault because I keep getting busy/distracted and not writing for ages, which makes it difficult to keep up a conversation. And also I guess I fail just as much at conversation on paper as in real life. Oh well, I’d just better try harder with my remaining penpals!
  • Our Biomüll bin was full recently so Jan decided to throw some banana skins in the normal rubbish (people in Germany – that’s actually allowed here!). The bin was still almost empty at the time and still isn’t full so now I’m attacked by a swarm of fruit flies every time I open the bin. I am never buying bananas again!! I don’t even like them that much…
  • Autumn is coming!! At least the supermarkets think it is. I walked into Coop the other day and the first thing I spotted was pumpkins. I *may* have got a little overexcited and immediately picked up a butternut squash despite the fact that I’d only gone in for milk, cream and bacon, parmesan and bacon bits. Time to have pumpkin with 90% of my meals again! Om nom nom. (I am also in the processing of cooking chestnuts in caramel sauce for lunch – autumn, you bring the best foods!)
    Yellow leaves
  • Remembering how long it took my last year, I decided to start my Christmas cross stitching last week. How are there only 16 weeks until Christmas?!
  • We were looking at flights last night for our trip to England in October and I realised I haven’t been home for over a year – and that was only the briefest of brief visits for my grandpa’s funeral. That’s more than a year since I’ve seen my dad, grandma and little brother! Crazy! (I saw my other brother, my mum and my sister at the wedding in July, but obviously only my mum’s side of the family attended that).
  • Our tickets for The Lion King musical arrived! We go the day after tomorrow. Excitement!

Right, that’s all. I need to eat my lunch now… then it’s back to work for me. I have loads to do this afternoon.

This has been your mid-week catch up. Or something. Goodbye!

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award…. times 2!

I was first nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award way back in 2013… you can read my answers here. Then Lolo, aka California Globetrotter nominated me again back at the beginning of August. I’ve been meaning to answer her questions ever since, but spectacularly failed to find time for it. Now that Becster has also nominated me, I thought it was about time I actually did the tag! Apologies in advance… this will be a long one as I’m answering ten questions from each of those bloggers. Feel free to skip this post and wait for a shorter one.

SisterhoodFirst of all, thank you to both bloggers. As always, I am honoured that you thought of me (even even though answering questions is haaaard /end whine). I will start with Lolo’s questions since she tagged me first. Hers are all travel related, which is nice.

  1. When did you realise you were a travel addict?
    I think it was probably when I was a child. I have a memory of going to visit my grandparents. We were living in Northern Ireland at the time, which puts me at between 5 and 7 years old. We travelled by ferry and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever and hoping I would get to go on many more ferries in my life. Even though we were “only” going to stay with my grandparents, I’m pretty sure that was the moment I caught the travel bug.
  2. Where will you never, ever travel to again?
    Hmm, I don’t think there is anywhere really. I’m not really that keen on Paris, but things keep coming up there (brother wanting to celebrate his 21st birthday there, it being the closest Night Vale live show to us…) so I’ll never say never!
  3. What was the most thrill-inducing activity you have ever done while travelling?
    I can’t actually think of anything. Sorry guys, I guess I’m boring! Hmm, maybe tobogganing down the road in Madeira counts?
  4. Have you ever had a terrible travel companion to the point you couldn’t wait for the trip to be over?
    I actually haven’t! Some of our companions in Ireland kind of annoyed me at times, but I successfully ignored them and made sure I fit in everything I wanted to do, so I still had an amazing trip.
  5. Where is one place you keep going back and visiting over an over again?
    I’m going  to say Northumberland doesn’t count since I mostly go there to visit family! Bizarrely, I think the place I’ve been most often is Paris with 4 trips! Most of those just happened that way though (see above), so it’s not like I just loooove Paris so much I have to keep going there. I mean, I like Paris but there are places I like a lot better! One place I would visit over and over again is Austria, but various parts of the country rather than one specific place (although I have been to Vienna twice).

    Marktgasse in Feldkirch, Austria
    Marktgasse in Feldkirch, Austria
  6. What advice could you give to newbie travel bloggers?
    Well, I’m not actually a travel blogger so I’m not sure any advice I give would be any good. I’ll just give some advice that isn’t specific to travel blogging… just be yourself! Find your own voice and don’t try to imitate big bloggers in the hope of achieving their level of popularity quickly. I will never have a “big” blog, but I will also never get tired of blogging because I’m actually doing it in a way I enjoy and not trying to do the “right” thing to achieve success.
  7. Is there something you always have to do in every city you visit?
    Try the local food! I always like to get away from the touristy areas and walk down random side streets to hopefully find out where the locals choose to eat. This often means a lot of pointing and gesticulating, but the experience is much more authentic than in a restaurant where the menu consists of pictures of the dishes 😉
  8. Where was the first place you visited overseas?
    Rhodes, Greece aged 11. I loved it!
  9. If you could live in any country right now, where would you live?
    Can I be boring and say the one I’m in? I haven’t even been living in Switzerland for 6 months yet so I still have so much to explore!
  10. If you could go back in time, which time period would you love to travel the world in?
    As a woman, I actually quite enjoy the fact that I get to travel the world now! While there obviously are places where it’s not really safe/desirable to be a woman travelling (especially alone!), for the most part things are pretty good these days. However, I do think it could have been interesting to travel the world when Captain Cook was on his voyages of discovery. Interesting but not very comfortable… so maybe I’ll stick with my own time after all 😉

Thank you Lolo for those interesting questions! And now on to Becster’s…

  1. What’s your favourite film/movie
    Oooh, so many good ones! I don’t think I can pick just one, so I’m going with two… A League of Their Own and Clue (if you haven’t see the latter, please go and find it right now. It’s seriously one of the funniest films ever!!)
  2. If you could visit anywhere for a day, where would you go?
    One day is such a short time, and there are so many places I want to visit. But I think this time I’m going to choose Iceland. I’m desperate to see the Northern Lights!
  3. Are you a cat or dog person?
    Dog, definitely. I don’t have anything against cats, but in a pet I want a someone who is always pleased to see me. Also, the idea of cleaning out cat litter trays makes me feel ill. I’d much rather pick up dog poo somewhere outside my house!

    Not my dog, sadly...
    Not my dog, sadly…
  4. Do you watch any soaps?
    No. I watched Hollyoaks for a while as a teenager, but I don’t really watch much TV at all these days.
  5. Favourite snack to binge on?
    Chocolate! And Switzerland is a dangerous place for chocolate lovers…
  6. Most hated chore to have to do?
    Ironing! 100%. I’m actually scared of burning myself on the iron (because I’m a weirdo) so all ironing at my place is done by Jan. Of the chores I actually do, I hate washing dishes the most. I love the fact that we now have a dishwasher!
  7. Do you eat your fruit and veggies?
    I try to 🙂 Vegetables I’m actually quite good with, but fruit seems to go bad too quickly for me.
  8. 50 Shades of Gray – yay or nay?
    I’ve never actually read it, but from what I’ve heard, apart from the storyline being awful I’d end up throwing it across the room a few pages in because the writing itself is so terrible!
  9. What do you normally eat for breakfast?
    I don’t always eat breakfast (if you’re reading… sorry mam!), but when I do it’s usually toast. Lately I’ve been enjoying it with Ovomaltine spread.
  10. Tea or coffee?
    Definitely tea! I do drink coffee, but not often, and at home I almost always drink tea.

    It's always a good time for a cuppa!
    It’s always a good time for a cuppa!

And that’s the end of that! I’m supposed to nominate ten other people now, but the only people I can think of are ones I’ve nominated for similar awards a dozen times, so here are my six nominations. That’s almost ten, right? 😉

Kezzie
Courtney from Welcome to Germerica
Beth from Ami in Schwabenland
Zoe from Where’s Zoe now?
Briony from Fear of the Reaper
Charlotte

And now I have to try and think of interesting questions to ask you (this part is also hard!).

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is the best food you’ve ever tried while travelling?
  3. If you could have a second home where would it be and why?
  4. If you were a ghost, which place would you haunt?
  5. Have you ever planned a trip just because a book/film was set there?
  6. What is your favourite item in your home?
  7. What is your favourite pancake topping/filling (depending on how you make your pancakes :-))
  8. Which song title best represents your life right now?
  9. Which of your blog posts has the most views?
  10. What is a book you’ve been meaning to read for a while but keep putting off?

To my nominees: I apologise if you’ve done this before or just hate tags! You don’t actually have to do it….
To everyone else: the people I’ve nominated have a fab blogs and you should really check them out. Also, sorry if I’ve bored you 😉

Bird tales

The weekend before last, Jan’s mum and her partner came to Basel for an afternoon as they were on holiday at the Bodensee (that’s Lake Constance to English speakers). They came by the flat to have a look at it and eat some lunch, then we all headed into town. It was really far too hot to do much though, so after taking the ferry across the Rhine, briefly dipping our feet in the water and walking along the river for a bit, we decided what we really needed was a drink! We took another ferry back across the water and headed to the restaurant of the Basler Papiermühler (paper mill – a fascinating museum by the way!). Jan and I had been before, so we knew they had good cake – and also coffee, according to Jan, although I settled for ice tea. Even the idea of coffee made me feel like melting!

While we were enjoying our drinks, we noticed a commotion going on at the corner of the restauarnt building (we were sitting outside). A waiter from the restauarant and an older man (presumably a customer) were pouring water on a bird who was obviously too exhausted to fly away. Eventually, they scooped the little guy up and placed him in a dog bowl filled with water. One by one, the other patrons of the restaurant went over to see what was going on – us included. What we saw in the bowl was a little swift, huddled up at the edge looking very sorry for himself. Later, from our table, we saw his little head poke up over the edge of the bowl and noticed him spreading his wings a bit. When we went over for another look, I took a photo. He still seemed a bit dazed and confused, but much better than before! Shortly after taking the photo, we paid and left. I wonder what happened to Mr. Bird?

The bird actually looks a lot better here - at least he's lifted his head and started looking around!
The bird actually looks a lot better here – at least he’s lifted his head and started looking around!

Then, last Wednesday, I was minding my own business hanging some laundry on the balcony when something flew past me and into the flat. I went in to have a look and saw a sparrow flying around my living room. It saw me, flew into the window in a panic then went and hid between a cabinet and the wall where I couldn’t get to it. I tried leaving a trail of bread to tempt it out, but birdie was having none of it. At some point I went and lay on the floor with my camera and used the zoom to check whether the little bird was even alive – I didn’t want to scare it even more by getting too close. So here’s a photo of a tiny bird cowering beside my living room furniture:

Poor birdy!
Poor birdy!

Eventually, the bird must have decided it was safe to come out. I was just sitting on the sofa when she (pretty sure this one’s a female) came whooshing out, flew past me, all around the living room, round the kitchen (obviously still in a panic as she hit a few walls on the way!) and eventually made it back out through the balcony door. Phew! I placed the bits of bread on the balcony, where they stayed all night before being picked up by a whole host of sparrows the next morning. I hope the one that got trapped in the flat got some as well to make up for her awful experience with the terrifying human!

Phew, I think I’ve had quite enough bird-related excitement for a while!