January photos

Some bloggers write a weekly photo post sharing a photo for each day of the previous week. There’s no way I’m going to remember to take a photo every single day, but I do like the idea of sharing random photos that don’t fit into a whole blog post, so I’ve decided to just write a post at the end of each month where I can dump all the photos I took. Here’s January’s.

It snowed and actually settled enough to still be there at the weekend so I went for a walk and found this guy:

red-squirrel

I also tried to take photos of snowy Basel from on top of a hill, but didn’t do very well:

baselbasel-markthalle

A few days later it snowed again and someone came to visit our balcony:

robin

That was the best photo I managed to get before I was spotted…

I then went out for a walk during my lunch break and discovered it’s quite difficult to take good photos while the snow is actually in the process of falling!

Look how deep it was though:

dscn0151

Finally, after disappearing for a few weeks, birds started visiting our balcony again. Here’s one sitting in a tree, having just taken a seed from our feeder and flown away to a safe distance to eat it:

bird

And that’s about it for January. Snow and wildlife… that sums up my month pretty well, to be honest.

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Friday letters

I am so unbelievably ready for Friday this week! The last 2 days have been so busy – I did overtime on Wednesday and yesterday I worked for 6 and a half hours before I managed to take my break (which technically isn’t even allowed, but I had a deadline!) I did manage to get out during my lunch break on Tuesday and met up for coffee with someone I’ve been talking to on an expat’s forum – the first time I’ve tried to meet people in Switzerland without dragging Jan along for moral support! I managed not to say anything stupid and make a fool of myself, and she had her toddler with her, which provided a distraction for my awkward silences, so that’s positive. It’s so hard making friends when you’re incredibly awkward and scared of social situations! Anywaaay… letters.

letter box

(I need a new letterbox pictures! I’ve used the ones I have so many times.)

Dear weather. You were so nice yesterday when I was stuck inside. Now the rain has started that’s set to continue all weekend. Thanks for that!

Dear clothes. I promise you will have a wardrobe to go in very, very soon! We have a trip to a furniture shop planned… (Yes, dear readers, after almost a year in Switzerland my clothes are still mostly in boxes).

Dear dishwasher. The man who came to look at you the other day said you were 20 years old. You certainly don’t look it! After all that time I suppose I can’t be too mad that you’ve given up washing dishes. I just hope your replacement comes soon!

Dear squirrel. It was such a nice surprise seeing you in our garden the other day. I hope you come back and visit us again!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have a great weekend!

 

Animals and mazes in Vienna

My brother left this morning,  so now I can get back to my regular blogging. I’m so behind on the things I wanted to write about! So now I shall go back in time to the end of June and continue where I left off with Vienna…

On our second to last day in Vienna, we decided to head to the Schönbrunn area. Schönbrunn is the name of the palace, but that wasn’t what we wanted to see! Our first stop was the zoo, called Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Tiergarten is an alternative German word for zoo, and literally means animal garden). It’s the oldest zoo in the world that’s still open, having started as an imperial menagier in 1752, and as far as zoos go, it’s a really nice one. They have both red and giant pandas, rhinos and, most excitingly, a tropical forest house with flying foxes! Also known as megabats, these are right up there among my favourite animals ever! Those of you who don’t like the idea of animals being locked away in cages should look away now. For the rest of you, here are some animals to admire. Our first stop involved reptiles and sea creatures.

I spent ages standing in front of a giant fish tank trying to get a photo of one specific fish. Eventually Jan managed to get one for me. It’s not the best of photos cos that damn fish was fast and also seemed to be the only one of its kind (there were millions of the plain yellow ones), which meant catching it while it was actually in sight was difficult, but hopefully you’ll be able to see why I was so excited by it… (hint: I’m not talking about the blue fish!)

Vienna

Not sure whether you can tell, but the fish in the middle has a yellow body with a red and black striped fin. I have no idea what kind of fish it really is, but it doesn’t matter – to me, it will forever be Germany fish!

After leaving the acquarium/reptile area, we wandered around looking at some of the animals who were in their outdoor areas. There were various babies among them, including elephants, a young giant panda and even baby mongeese! Also, if you click on the flamingo picture to make it bigger, you should be able to spot some young (not really baby any more) flamingos. They fascinated me because I had never seen a flamingo that wasn’t fully grown (and pink!) yet.

Next stop: Tropical house. It was warm in there… and humid (well duh!). There was even a sign outside warning people of that. It was well worth it though, because flying foxes! (Flughunde in German – literally flying dogs). I’d never seen one before, and now I want to see one up close. Way too cool! There were also various tropical birds in there and some cool frogs – some of them were so shiny they looked almost plastic!

After leaving the tropical bit, there was a kind og walk through the woods over bridges. Below the bridges there was a huge crater, which the information said was from where a bomb had hit the zoo during World War 2! Then, in the wooded area after the bridges, came bees! Mostly there was just a huge information board explaining the lifecycle of bees, how a bee hive works, etc. The actual hives were mainly behind in an area you couldn’t get to, but in some places there were glass panels where you could see in. It was incredibly difficult to take a photo of the bees, but I tried! And I then also had to take a photo of one of the items in the small play area nearby, because that too was a bee! I may have got a little overexcited…

Just past the bees, we came past a little girl and (presumably) her grandfather. Grandad was reading while the little girl stood near him with a bag of buts. As we went by, we saw a squirrel come running up to the girl, whol held out a nut. The squirrel then took said nut right from her hand before running back into the trees to bury it, then running back, getting a new nut and burying that one in a different place. Watching the squirrel and attempting to get photos must have kept us occupied for a good five minutes!

Vienna

Fiiinally moving on, we ended our trip to the zoo with a visit to the penguins and the polar bears.

After the zoo, we stayed in the Schönbrunn area. I had seen on the map that there was a section of the grounds labelled “Mazes and labyrinths” and I really wanted to go and check them out! First up was a simple maze where you just had to find a viewing platform. There were two entrances next to each other, so Jan and I decided to take an entrance each and see who could find the platform first. I won! 😉

Maze

Next was a labyrinth containing various activities (for want of a better word)… a square of rectangles that could be stood on to make music, a kind of pump to spray water and a kaleidoscope of mirrors. A second labyrinth had a pole with a bell a top (which I failed to climb) and a mathematical puzzle that kept us occupied for far too long! At only €3.50 for an adult it was certainly worth the entrance fee 🙂

The ultimate mirror selfie!
The ultimate mirror selfie!

We were forced to leave the maths puzzle unfinished when it was time to leave (well, we managed the simple version at least…), so we headed into town to watch the Germany vs USA match. Then we decided to have dinner at a place that our Dialog im Dunkeln guide had recommended – Jonathan and Sieglinde. Everything on the menu involves Äpfel or Erdäpfel – apples or potatoes (Erdapfel, literally earth apple, being the Austrian word for potato). Since potatoes are one of my absolute favourite meals, this was right up my street! I chose the baked potato with a spinach sauce, and it was positively green! Jan went for potato and wild garlic pancakes. I tried a bit of one, and let me tell you it was delicious! Of course, we both had to drink fresh apple juice. There were so many tasty looking things on the menu… if I’m ever back in Vienna I definitely have to go there again!

And thus concludes our penultimate day in Vienna, and my June 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.

Why don’t humans hibernate?

Some days I wish I was a hedgehog. Or a squirrel – with a nice bushy tail to wrap around myself while I curled up to sleep for the winter. I would sleep and sleep and sleep, only popping out occasionally for a bite to eat. Sounds wonderful!
Hibernation sounds like heaven right now. I am sooo tired. And the tiredness seems to be there, no matter how much sleep I get. Not that I’ve ben getting much sleep (usually six hours a night, seven if I’m lucky), but that’s normal. And usually I’m not this tired. I blame the weather! It’s dark when I get up (and when I leave the house) and dark again by home time. Currentlyit’s at least light when I get off my train in the morning, so I at least get to travel the last few metres to work in the light, but soon it will be dark then too. And it’s cold. So, so cold. Despite the fact that it isn’t officially winter until 22 December(!!) according to my calendar. Remind me why humans don’t hibernate…

Squirrels in summer

I saw a squirrel this morning as I was leaving for work. I was walking along the path (or rather the dirt track that people’s feet have created across the grass) when I heard a rustling in the leaves beside me. Looking down I saw the squirrel just sitting there nibbling on whatever it was he had been looking for in the grass. They really do hold it between both their paws like on pictures. If I’d had my camera I could have taken a picture, that’s how close he was. And he didn’t seem at all afraid. Fantastic! German squirrels are gorgeous, not like those horrible grey things that are the only type of squirrel most English people have ever seen. Grey squirrels are basically just rats with bigger tails, and they’re not even native to England! Why, why, why did somebody decide to import grey squirrels?? They’re not pretty, they have no use and it’s their fault we hardly have any red ones any more!
The squirrels in Germany are red, so they look shiny instead of dirty. And they have those big bushy tales that make them look so cuddly. I’ve never seen one in summer here before, which is strange really now that I think about it. I’ve never heard of an animal that hides away in summer…

Today we got three new English speaking interns at work, one in Hannover, one in Frankfurt and a South African guy in Essen. We’ve never had a South African before. Ooh, the excitement! They’re all going to be here til the end of September. I’ll be gone by then! *sniffle* I wanna staaay!

Oh, I may have found the explanation for my headache on Sunday. It seems it may not have been from the sun after all but the beginning of a cold. Yesterday I felt odd and was barely hungry. Today I have aching muscles, a sore throat and my nose won’t stop running. And worst of all I can barely speak. I’m so hoarse you’d think I’d drank a bottle of vodka and smoked a pack of 20. Not good! I need to get my voice back to normal before my interview on Thursday…