May 2020 recap

whats new with you

So another month is over. I can’t say another month of (semi-)lockdown because at this point we’re barely even in lockdown any more. The government still keeps asking us to stay home and for those who can work from home to continue doing so but kindergartens and primary schools, all shops, restaurants, museums and galleries (but not zoos or botanical gardens) opened again on 11 May. The shops have to limit the numbers of people allowed in at one time and restaurants are only allowed four people to a table (exception: parents with 3+ children) so it’s not entirely back to normal but not really any sort of lockdown either. Masks are “recommended” if you can’t keep 2 metres apart but are only mandatory at hairdressers, massage parlours, physiotherapists, etc. Not on public transport. For me, not much has changed though. I don’t feel the need to go in any shops even if the government says it’s okay. So I am continuing to only enter supermarkets and pharmacies – I don’t need new clothes or electronics! And I can’t go into the office (yet) since the border hasn’t reopened. A few of my colleagues have been going in occasionally though, only ever a few at a time so there’s never more than one person working in a room.

One place I did go was the dentist  – for an appointment that was originally supposed to be in March! I had to get a filling and also have my teeth cleaned. It was my first visit to the dentist since moving to Switzerland and the dental assistant (hygienist? technician? What are the ones who clean your teeth called?) wasn’t satisfied so she made me come back 2 weeks later for her to finish the cleaning. Yes, it’s shameful. Consider this me outing myself publicly. The filling wasn’t my fault though – I have two teeth that overlap and even the dentist said it’s really difficult to properly get in there and make sure the surfaces are properly clean.

I finally managed to buy yeast – after trying for 3 weeks! I originally wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter, but figured that ship had sailed, so we made Zopf – a kind of Swiss bread that’s plaited/braided.

We also made Capuns, which are a speciality of Graubünden and involve wrapping a dough/meat mixture in chard leaves then cooking them in a creamy/cheesy sauce. The first time we only had spinach, which worked out well but was so fiddly and took forever. We then tried again actually using chard and it was much easier (but still took a while). The end result was worth the wait though! Two Swiss things… am I integrated now? 😉

Speaking of being integrated, I received my new residence permit – slightly belatedly. I am officially allowed to stay for another 5 years, no matter what happens with Brexit. Hurrah! (I still don’t know whether I’ll be allowed to continue working in Germany after the transition period, but details…).

Apart from that we are continuing to go for walks. We decided to walk into town once (the Saturday before the shops/restaurants were allowed to reopen) to see what it was like and decided we won’t be doing that again any time soon. There were so many people walking by the Rhine without even considering social distancing! Plus joggers, cyclists. Nope… I’ll stick with my walks here in the “countryside”. We also got a car a couple of times and went for a drive, once to a village that’s famous for its stork colony (we saw baby storks!) And once to where some friends (a couple) are staying with his family. We met up and went for a walk in the woods, staying 2 metres apart at all times. This has been allowed in Switzerland from the beginning by the way – the rule was you could meet up outside in a group of up to 5 people, but at the same time they asked us to please stay home whenever possible. We hadn’t met up with anyone until now but with the relaxing of regulations and new cases in Switzerland having stayed consistently under 100 per day for a while now (actually mostly under 40) we decided it would be okay, especially since we know they’ve been isolating and we stayed further away from them than a lot of people bother to do in supermarkets!

We also had an electrician come by last week to look at a light in our corridor that hasn’t worked since the renovation last year. Something had changed and we couldn’t figure out how to make both lights work again. We all wore masks and we even provided hand disinfectant for him to use. And now we have two working lights in the corridor again and the useless dimmer switch that somebody installed in probably the 90s has gone so we can actually use both switches! Also, we supported a local tradesman so yay.

I attempted to dye my hair, but as I mentioned in my latest Style Imitating Art post, it didn’t work out as planned.

On Saturday we walked to the zero-waste/refill supermarket close to the train station and bought some bits  – mainly washing powder, shower gel, shampoo, washing up liquid. Not much food since we still have loads of rice and couscous from a previous trip. We took the tram back since the bags were heavy and the first one was totally full. It’s like lockdown/social distancing never happened! The tram we changed onto was fairly empty, but that’s normal. Not as many people come out to where we live.

I took part in the second Believathon and had lots of fun following the map and reading children’s books for two weeks. I finally read The Neverending Story! You’ll have to wait for Show Us Your Books day to find out my thoughts.

Believathon-tbr

That’s all I’ve got for you. We’re continuing to stay home as much as possible so there isn’t really anything exciting to report. But we’re plodding along and managing not to get on each other’s nerves so far 😉 I hope you’re all doing well and staying happy and healthy!

Don’t forget to go on over the Kristen‘s blog to say hi and check out the link up.

p.s. I’m aware I haven’t addressed everything that’s going on in the world, and particularly the US. I am horrified by the images I see on TV. I have shared things on Twitter and signed various petitions, but beyond that I don’t know what to say. While not racist, I am far from perfect, and I know I have a lot of learning/reading to do. I am also very aware of my own privilege – especially as someone living abroad who has always been accepted without question because I am white and British. Even to the extent of being asked why I wanted to live in a certain part of town in Germany when “that’s where all the foreigners live”. Please don’t think I’m ignorant for continuing to post as normal.

Photo an hour: Saturday 15 February 2020

Hello friends! I’m posting this photo an hour round-up extremely late because I actually forgot I had done it. So that’s a thing. As always, this link up was hosted by Jane and Louisa and I originally took part on Twitter.

Here’s how my day went:

10 a.m. Gotta start the day with a cuppa!

11 a.m. Heading for a shower since we were supposed to be going out for the day.

12 noon Showered, dressed, now brushing my teeth.

1 p.m. Since Jan only got up at 12:30, we spontaneously decided to add on overnight stay to our strip. While he booked a hotel, I thre a few things in a suitcase.

2 p.m. Just hanging around, waiting for the boyfriend to be ready. Boring black tights today.

3 p.m. On a train with my book.

4 p.m. Still on the train, waiting to leave Zurich.

5 p.m. Another station… Uzwil apparently.

6 p.m. Made it to St Gallen – yay! Quick walk around the old town before it gets completely dark.

7 p.m. Dinner at the hotel was yummy.

8 p.m. Decided to have a beer – my first in probably a month. I’m not really drinking this year.

9 p.m. In the hotel room, looking at accommodation for our next trip!

10 p.m. Still discussing hotels in Poland.

11 p.m. Time for bed!

I won’t ask you how your day went since it was ages ago. But I will point out that the next photo an hour date is 21st March, in case you want to join in. Post a photo every hour on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #photoanhour or save up all your photos and write a blog post. It’s fun!

Foodie Penpals October 2015 reveal

I can’t believe another round of Foodie Penpals has been and gone already! The next one is the final one for 2015, as Carol Anne is understandably taking a break for December (I’m sure people will have plenty of treats to enjoy then anyway!).

My package actually arrived not long after I got back from my holiday, but in keeping with the rules I waited until closer to the end of the month to write my reveal post. This time I got to send my package to Germany, which was a bit more of a challenge as I wanted to try and find products that aren’t in every single supermarket there (a lot of brands are the same). In return, I got a lovely package from England. Abbie told me it was her first time taking part, but if she hadn’t mentioned that I would never have known. The package she put together was amazing! I had mentioned that we like spicy food, such as Thai, and asked her to put in some healthy snacks (I’m desperately trying to get those pounds that have crept back on since we moved to Switzerland!).

Here’s my box of treats waiting to be unpacked:

Foodie October 2015As you can see, I did take out the postcard so you could see the food.

Now for a closer look:

Foodie October 2015Two more Graze tubs. The one Charlotte sent me last month was delicious, so I was pleased to see these ones in my latest package. These ones have both been devoured already, and they were both very tasty indeed.

Foodie October 2015Energy-giving treats. These were both delicious, but I especially liked the coconut and macadamia energy ball. I ate these for my mid-morning snack on two days so Jan didn’t even get a look in 😉

Foodie October 2015Some sweet treats. All were tasty, but the macaroon was my favourite. It’s a good job she only included one because I’m not sure I could have stopped myself eating two in a row (and then feeling sick!).

Foodie October 2015Thai (sweet) chilli snacks. The crackers have been demolished, and most delicious they were too. The chickpeas are waiting for the next time we sit down to watch a film – they look intriguing so I thought I’d be nice and actually share with Jan 😉

Foodie October 2015Finally, a drink. This is actually still sitting in my fridge untried but I will definitely be drinking it soon. It sounds absolutely delicious (and very healthy). Many thanks Abbie Lee for an amazing box!

Once again, I was sending to a non-blogger so I’ll show you myself what I bought her:

Foodie October 2015Zürcher Geschnetzeltes sauce – you can probably get that in Germany, but oh well, it’s Swiss at least. Branche chocolate bars (these are delicious!). Basler Läckerli – a kind of gingerbread. A hazelnut biscuit called “bird’s nest”. Swiss herb salt (it’s literally salt mixed with various herbs) and a barley soup from Graubünden (anything with “Bündner” in the name comes from the canton of Graubünden/Grisons).

If you want to take part in Foodie Penpals, you can read the rules and sign up here. (This is the European version, for those of you in the US/Canada, the original Foodie Penpals on The Lean Green Bean is here.). Matches go out on the 5th of each month, so if you want to take part in November go and sign up right now! The deadline for sending packages is the 20th of the month. It’s a lot of fun and if you do decide to sign up I promise you won’t regret it!

More from Zurich

I tried to write this post a few days ago but WordPress lost it and I couldn’t be bothered to type it all out again…

1 January was our final day in Zurich. We started 2015 by sleeping til 1.30 p.m., then eventually managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel and to the main train station, where we found a cafe for breakfast. I had a hazelnut-filled croissant (which are called Gipfeli in Swiss German!) and a far-too-sweet cinnamon latte. Then it was time for some more walking. We took a different parallel street to Bahnhofstrasse, one we’d never been down before, and eventually came to Zurich’s “other” river – the Sihl. Apparently it flows below the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and parts of the station are actually below the river! The things you learn from Wikipedia… Once we got away from the town centre, the path was slippy but it looked pretty with the river alongside and the tree branches hanging over it.

After we’d walked for a while, Jan consulted the map on his phone then decided we needed to turn left if we were eventually going to end up back in town. He then proceeded to make me go up this set of steps:

 

Narnia eat your heart out!

I didn’t so much walk up them as haul myself up, clinging to the handrail for dear life the whole time! What looks like pretty snow had been trodden on so often that it was actually more like ice. Very, very slippy ice! At the top, we found a park area set on a hillside. All the local kids were out playing with their bobsleighs. I wish we could have borrowed one… it would have been slightly easy than walking/slipping down the frozen path!

After leaving that park and walking down some random streets, we entered another park where we found more people sledding and another snowman. From there, we also had a view of the lake.

Finally, after walking for what seemed like days, we reached the lake. By this time it was dark and we were cold and hungry, but we still stopped to take a few photos of the lake. By which I mean Jan stole my camera and took pictures after witnessing me failing to get any good ones. Hmph!

After all the walking we’d done, Jan decided he wanted a hearty meal of the type served by a brew-house. The first Bierhalle we tried was closed (for future reference, lots of places in Zurich seem to close on New Year’s Day), so we headed to a place called Restaurant Johanniter. Jan chose a dark beer that was delicious! Unfortunately it was on special and the card only said “Schwarzbier” so we don’t know what it was to look out for in future. I went for the Appenzeller Quöllfrisch, which was also tasty. To eat I had vension “geschnetzeltes” – geschnetzeltes is a word for strips of meat cut in a certain way. Jan had the traditional Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, which I’m not keen on because it comes in a sauce with mushrooms. I then treated myself to some apple strudel for dessert (no picture of that because I was too busy stuffing my face 😉 )

Once we’d eaten, we headed back to the hotel to pack and relax for a while. And that was the end of our trip to Zurich. A lovely city, if fairly small. I’m sure we’ll be back… Basel to Zurich is only a little over an hour by train, which makes it pretty perfect for a day trip with visitors.

35 Before 35: Eat fondue in Switzerland

KäsefondueFondue is technically more of a winter food (for obvious reasons!), but when we took my brother to Basel for the day I was determined to find some despite the fact that it was July! Amazingly, I actually managed to find two restaurants in Basel that serve fondue year round. The first place we tried turned out to be closed as the owners were on holiday, so we ended up at a restaurant called Steinbock. (Steinbock, by the way, is the German name for the star sign Capricorn).

The restaurant was a fairly unassuming place on a busy street near the Schweizerische Bahnhof (Swiss railway station – there is also a Badische Bahnhof, which is the German train station, meaning you can travel there from Germany on a German rail pass). If I hadn’t discovered beforehand from the Internet that this was one of very few restaurants in Basel that does fondue year round I doubt we would have stopped there! However, it turned out to be a good choice. Apart from the many different types of fondue (including meat ones), the restaurant also had raclette and several different dishes involving Rösti, as well as some other traditional Swiss dishes and some pasta/gnocchi dishes. Jan initially wanted to order cheese fondue for three, but I suggested it might be better for just the two of us to get fondue, that way my brother could try a little bit but wouldn’t be left without any food if he didn’t like it. So we ordered fondue for two, while my brother went for the Schnitzel.
Just look at all the cheese in this pot… and remember, that’s for two people:

You can’t even tell what it is I’m dipping in! (For those who aren’t familiar with fondue, it’s bread).

The fondue was nice enough, although it had a little too much alcoho for my taste (cheese fondue is not just melted cheese – it actually consists of cheese, white wine, “Kirschwasser” – a kind of cherry schnapps – and usually some garlic). Most of the times I’ve eaten fondue, it’s been at work (we have a Swiss costumer who likes to send us fondue cheese), and obviously we’re sparing with the alcohol there. I prefer my fondue to taste more of cheese! It was still nice though, and Jan enjoyed it. But I do have to admit, my favourite part of the meal was the bread basket they brought out before we’d even ordered… filled with warm bread rolls that I’m sure had a hint of cheese in them I would go back there just for those! And for the record, no we did not finish the cheese! We used up all our bread and decided we were both too full to ask for more (trust me, it was a loooot of cheese!)

The food was fairly expensive – Jan spent nearly all of the 100 Swiss francs (just over 82 euros) he had on him just on our three meals plus three drinks! But by Swiss standards it was actually quite reasonable… I have seen Swiss cafés that charged 15 Swiss francs (about 12 euros) for basically cheese on toast! If you ever find yourself in Basel, I would certainly recommend Restaurant Steinbock. But do make sure you have plenty of cash on you – the waiter said they didn’t accept credit cards, and Switzerland is far from cheap!

And there’s another thing crossed off my 35 before 35 list. Just 31 left to go!