July 2021 recap

Hello friends! Can you believe it’s August already? My birthday month! Mind you, the amount of rain we had in July you would think it was October already. At one point we had thunder and lightning every day for about 5 days in a row! I love a good storm but that felt a little excessive. I think we had maybe 7 or 8 days without any rain and probably 5 of them were sunny. Luckily we weren’t affected by the flooding that hit other areas – the images from Germany were awful! The Rhine here was much higher than normal and ships were stopped because they couldn’t fit under the bridges but overall we got off lightly. There was some flooding in other parts of Switzerland but not wide-scale destruction and I’m not aware of any deaths from floods.

The Rhine in Basel, July 2021

Given the amount of rain you can probably guess that we didn’t really do much. On one of the drier days we drove up to somewhere near Grenchen (I think) and took a walk to a view point. On the 21st I went to Germany to have a meal with my colleagues – our delayed Christmas meal. I said I would go as long as it was possible to sit outside and it ended up being the one sunny week of the month (of course on the Friday evening the rain returned just in time for the weekend and then remained for the entire rest of the month…). Since Germany has now decided everyone needs a “COVID certificate” to get in and I am not vaccinated (yet – but I now have an appointment for my first dose) I won’t be going to the office anytime soon so I’m pleased I went and saw everybody. I don’t feel like getting tested to go into work so it will be the last time I see them for a while! The trains I took were at non-peak times and nobody tried to sit next to me so I felt pretty safe.

View of the River Aare from above

I read 9 books in July, all for the 15th round of Book Challenge by Erin. More on that next Tuesday when it’s time for Show Us Your Books.

We watched football – Jan more than me. He actually went out a couple of times to watch with a friend (outdoors at non-crowded bars – they ended up leaving one place because they felt it was too crowded). I did watch the final. Ah England – so close. Penalties are the woooorst! We’ve watched a bit of the Olympics, mainly recaps since it’s mostly happening either in the early hours of the morning. I enjoyed the women’s triple jump, the BMX events and the men’s high jump. How lovely was it when they decided to share the gold medal? We have also been continuing to watch Richard Osman’s House of Games although it’s still repeats. And the other day we watched Dirty Dancing – the first time I had seen it in probably 20-odd years!

My friend had her third son on 1st July and I finally finished the birth sampler I’ve been cross stitching for months (no exaggeration). His name and date of birth are below the picture but I’ve cut them off for privacy.

I can’t think of anything else I want to say. I managed to continue going for walks most weeks during brief breaks in the rain – although there was one week that I missed entirely because the weather was just awful and I didn’t want to go out for any length of time at all.

That’s all I’ve got for you. More next month. I hope you are all well, safe, happy and staying dry or cool, depending on which weather extreme you’re currently going through (those seem to be the main ones currently…).

June 2021 recap

Hello lovely readers! Normally I would posted my monthly recap before now but either WordPress or my internet browser (or more than likely some combination of the two) is being a massive pain and refusing to load the post editor – I just get a blank white screen. Blogging from my phone is ridiculously annoying and yet here I am. Yay?!

Anyway, I’m not sure I have a great deal to say about June. It was hot – almost too hot – for approximately 2 weeks. So naturally I decided to bake scones on a day with temperatures over 30ºC. On one of the hot days we drove to a village called Linn to go for a walk. I read that there was a waterfall, and indeed there is… but it’s tiny. Apparently the biggest waterfall in the canton of Aargau though. Bless. There’s also a giant lime tree right outside the village that’s supposedly famous – I think pretty much solely for being huge, which it is to be fair.

The rest of the month I continued going for walks locally – often in between rain showers. After those two hot weeks we got lots and lots of rain. I think at one point we had thunder every day for a week! I love a good thunder storm but it started to get a tiny bit ridiculous.

Jan actually got to perform with one of his choirs – I went to watch since it was outdoors. Luckily the rain held off until the end!

We continued watching Richard Osman’s House of Games – until the series ended and it was replaced by tennis, which we did not watch. Did we watch football in June? I can’t remember if it had already started then. Jan watched more group phase matches than me – I only really bothered with “my” teams (England, Scotland, Wales, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Ukraine if you’re interested – and I only watched some of their matches).

I read 10 books in June, including the entire To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy (years after everyone else!). I will bring you my reviews on Tuesday even if it means having to post on my phone again.

I can’t think of anything else to tell you and typing on the tiny screen is annoying me so I’m going to stop here. Have a great weekend everyone! (Or a great whatever day it is when you read this.)

May 2021 recap

Hello! Another month has passed and I still haven’t caught up on the blog posts I’ve been meaning to post (mainly photo an hour write ups). Today I am here for a May recap because that’s just what I do at the beginning of the month.

So, what did I do? Went for walks, mostly during brief gaps in the rain. Seriously, May was *so* rainy! I guess the plants/ground needed it after a relatively dry beginning to the year but it did get a bit old by mid-month. May is not supposed to feel like November! The final weekend of the month was finally sunny and now I’m boiling! I know, there’s just no pleasing some people 😉 but I would have preferred a more gradual transition. (Side note: it’s actually raining again today. It took a few days between me writing this on my phone and actually getting round to adding the photos so I could post it.)

Jan had his second COVID vaccination. That was just over 2 weeks ago, so now he has his full immunity, whatever that means for Pfizer. 90%? Something along those lines.

The UK was added back on to Switzerland’s list of risk countries (because of the Indian variant), and as far as I know Switzerland had never not been a risk country for the UK. I was hoping I might be able to see some of my family towards the end of the year but I’m really not sure now. Nobody wants to travel somewhere only to spend the entire time in quarantine!

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland dropped steadily throughout May and the daily number of positive tests finally made it below 1,000 in the final week of the month. Hurrah! Restaurants had been allowed to open their outdoor areas throughout the month (since April) but with all the rain I’m not sure how well they did. As of 31st May they’re allowed to open fully, with max. four people per table indoors.

Jan and I continued to watch repeats of Richard Osman’s House of Games (hurry up with the new series BBC!) and I watched Great British Menu. My favourite dish ended up being the overall winner at the banquet. Yay! We also watched Eurovision. I was rooting for Switzerland (genuinely my favourite song of the evening) but they ended up coming third. Let’s not even talk about the debacle of the UK not even getting one measly point despite being far from the worst of the evening!

It was a much better reading month, in terms of both quantity and enjoyment. You’ll have to wait until Tuesday to find out more about that though.

I genuinely can’t think of anything else to say. We didn’t go anywhere and I mainly spent the month working. I lead a very boring life! Maybe now the weather’s getting better I’ll actually manage to do something in June. In the meantime take care and have fun!

April 2021 recap

Hello my lovelies! Can you believe I’m here for an April recap? What even is time and where is it going? I haven’t been around here much recently – sorry about that (why am I apologising? Nobody cares whether I blog!). You’ll soon see that I don’t really have much of a reason for that. As in I haven’t been too busy to post. Just not in the mood I guess. Anyway, on with the recap.

The month started with Easter. Actually Good Friday was 2nd April but I don’t have anything to say about the 1st. I was pleased to have a long weekend! Not that I did a lot. I went for 2 walks (Jan joined me for one) and I made hot cross buns. They took forever but turned out quite nice for a first attempt – maybe a bit dense.

ITV were showing all the Harry Potter films on Easter weekend and the following weekend and Jan decided her was going to watch then (if you know him in real life you’re probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief right now!). I watched with him and had fun spotting the scenes that were shot at Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral. I don’t normally watch that many films in such a short space of time unless it’s Christmas! We also watched a German film called Im Juli, which was weird, and I discovered Jan had never seen (or even heard of) The Lost Boys so we watched that. This discovery was make thanks to an answer on House of Games, which we’re still keeping up with, and I’ve also been enjoying Great British Menu. So much TV in April! This is very unusual for me!

I mentioned last month that my doctor had given me a referral for physiotherapy. I had my first session on the Wednesday after Easter. I chose a place that’s kind of opposite where I live which is so convenient! It literally takes me about 4 minutes from leaving my flat to being in the room. I’ve nearly finished my sessions now and my back is mostly better, although it still seems to play up at times.

It was not a good month for reading. I listened to an audiobook and it took dayssss. Me and audiobooks just don’t get on. Then on top that I only read 5 other books. I had hoped to finish another one but alas I only managed the first 130ish pages in April. I’m still working on it now almost a week into May!

Jan got his first dose of COVID vaccine. Yay! Our canton finally moved on from over-75s and “highest risk” to all chronic illnesses (Jan has type 1 diabetes. Since it’s well-controlled he isn’t considered high risk). He will get the second jab later this month. Vaccinations are still relatively slow here but starting to pick up now. And on the very last day of April the reported daily positive tests finally fell to below 2000 for the first time in weeks. Restaurants have been allowed to open their terraces since 19 April but I still haven’t been to one. And gyms also reopened on the same day but I haven’t set foot in one of those since I was about 16 😉 We did get take away a couple of times. One that lasted us for three nights in a row and one that we bought for lunch and had enough rice left over to reheat for tea. I made it without some frozen samosas (obviously I heated them) that I bought to try and turned out to be delicious so I will definitely get them again.

The last two months I have completely forgotten to mention that I’ve been trying to learn Ukrainian through Duolingo. I’m not great at it though – I can’t seem to get my head around the Cyrillic alphabet, especially since some of the letters that look similar to ours are pronounced (roughly) the same and some aren’t. So так is “yes” and it’s pronounced pretty much as you would expect (tak) but сестра (sister) is pronounced “sestra” because what my brain insists on viewing as a ‘p’ is pronounced similar to an ‘r’. And then the letter that does look like an r, albeit a backwards one, is pronounced ‘ya’, so моя сестра (my sister) is “moya sestra”. Aaargh!

I cannot think of anything else to tell you! I’ve still been going for my weekly walks, sometimes with Jan but most often alone. Here’s a photo of a squirrel we saw on one walk – it looks like it’s in a cage, but actually it’s some kind of structure that was apparently built to help it climb the tree. The tree was on the grounds of a school so we guessed the structure was probably part of some project there.

I hope you all had a good April. Check back on Tuesday if you want to know about the very few books I read last month.

2020: Isolation Is Not Good for Me

Actually I did okay in isolation – unlike the rest of the world, I’m mostly fine with having an excuse to stay home and read (yes it sucks that I haven’t seen a single member of my family for over a year, and even more so that this happened when my dad was finally planning on coming to visit me for the first time since my year abroad in 20014, but having to stay at home/not go to bars and clubs really isn’t the end of the world for me and I already worked from home anyway) – but I couldn’t resist using that as a post title. I mean when will I ever get the chance again? It’s a line from the song Lemon Tree by Fool’s Garden if you don’t know. (Apologies if you feel I’m making light of what I know has been a terrible year for both the world in general and many people as individuals. I know not everyone shares my “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry” attitude.)

Anyway. Here’s something I wrote at the end of last year’s recap post:
…the last few weeks I’ve finally felt like I’m starting to emerge from the fog and I am hopeful that 2020 can be a better year, even if I ultimately don’t get my wish to start a family of my own. Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead! (And no renovations, thank goodness – I’m still dealing with dust in unexpected places from the last one!)“.

Ha
Haha.
Hahaha.
So… it looks like it was me that jinxed us all. Sorry about that guys!
But let’s look back at 2020 shall we? This will be long so apologies in advance.

We started the year here in Basel, watching the fireworks with friends. (Well, technically when the year began we were still waiting for the fireworks since they don’t start until 00:30 here). On New Year’s Day the four of us slept late and then had a nice brunch before my friend and her boyfriend headed home to Germany. Remember those days when socialising and crossing borders was allowed? We also met up with a friend of Jan’s later in the month, took a bus to Gempen and then walked up the hill and had coffee/hot chocolate in the restaurant at the top. According to my January recap, we went to the theatre on 4th January. We saw a “Basel musical”, which was strange but entertaining.

View from beside the restaurant in Gempen

After a failed hysteroscopy in December 2019, I had to go in for another attempt in January of this year – this time under general anaesthetic. (I actually had to look that up because I was questioning whether it actually happened in 2020 – it’s been a long year!) I was very pleased to be knocked out for it this time around. Everything went well. The scar tissue that was removed the first time (in August 2019) had grown back over slightly and the doctor also opened up a few cysts (but said there wasn’t really much blood in them). A week later I also had to go for a sonohysterogram (or saline ultrasound) to make sure everything looked good after the hysteroscopy and my uterus expanded as it should. It wasn’t that painful during the procedure – although it felt like it went on forever – but afterwards I had a lot of cramps for the rest of the day and was glad of the Buscopan and painkillers they gave me.

The Good Omens TV series finally came to the BBC and we recorded and then watched each episode during January and part of February. It was just as good as I had hoped – definitely worth the wait. Other than that the only thing I really did in January was read. A lot. 22 books to be precise.

February was our anniversary. 16 years together. We didn’t celebrate on the day, but we did take a trip to Baden the weekend after. It’s known for being a spa town but the entire area of town with the thermal pools, etc. was being renovated when we went. We did manage to dip our feet in a hot pool by the river though. The following week I went to the doctor with acid reflux and stomach pains, resulting in a diagnosis of gastritis caused by stress. I was prescribed proton pump inhibitors, which worked for a while.

We also went to St Gallen – the original plan had been to take a day trip, but after a late start we spontaneously booked a hotel room and stayed overnight. The following day after a walk round town and into the hills we took a train to Rorschach and walked along the side of the lake before heading back to Basel.

Then came March. Oh March! Jan’s 40th birthday was on the 1st. He wanted to go for a meal, so we booked a table at one of the few restaurants that was open on Sundays. (Ahahaha. Now none of them are open on any day at all!) At that point it had just been announced that the Basel carnival (which was due to start the next day) had been cancelled and the waiter we spoke to mainly seemed to be concerned about what was going to happen to all the extra food and beer they had bought. How naive we all were back then! The following Friday I went into the office in Germany and on the Wednesday after that, 11th March, we were supposed to travel to Poland. I had woken up with cold symptoms on the Monday and was feeling worse by the Wednesday so I called in sick to work and was debating whether to still travel right up until I was due to leave for the train to Zurich. I finally made the decision to cancel after hearing that Poland were conducting health checks at the borders and sending anyone with symptoms that could be Covid-related to hospital. The following day I went to the doctor, who agreed that I likely only had a cold (exacerbated by the same stomach problems as in February). I got a sick note for two days so I could get part of my holiday back and then still took the following week as holiday since I had to use those days by the end of March anyway.

Meanwhile, my family decided to still go to Poland, arrived just before the announcement was made that borders would be closing and tourists could either leave or quarantine. Ryanair sent far too few rescue flights, so they ended up taking a taxi to Berlin, spending one night there and flying home via Düsseldorf – during that time Germany closed its borders with Austria and Switzerland but luckily flights to the UK were still unaffected. Basel-Landschaft (where I live) became the first canton to go into a shutdown, in which all bars, restaurants, night clubs, etc. and shops with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies had to close. Supermarkets were only allowed to sell essential items and actually had to cordon off the aisles with toys or clothing. All but essential medical services were cancelled, meaning the fertility clinic was forced to close just as I had been planning to try another transfer after the two procedures in January. I also had a dentist appointment cancelled – only emergency treatment was allowed. Jan’s employer announced that anybody who could work from home should do so and we set up our spare room as an office for him, and by the time my holiday was over all my colleagues were also working from home. That first lockdown weekend was also the first time in 2020 that I missed my weekly walk, being unsure what was actually allowed (as it turned out walks most definitely have been allowed throughout this entire pandemic, but the early days were full of confusion). It’s strange to think that if everything hadn’t gone wrong our twins would have turned one and I would have finished my maternity leave right around the time everybody started to lock down. Obviously both of us working from home during a pandemic has been much, much easier without two toddlers to care for but I can honestly say I would rather have my boys than an “easy” life!

A friend her first baby in March a daughter – so obviously I had to stitch a card for her. See, some people got good things this year!

April saw hairdressers, garden centres, DIY stores, medical massage practices, physiotherapists and dentists allowed to open again, with customers having to wear masks and limited numbers of people allowed in. Jan and I went for many, many walks in every possible direction – we are very lucky to live where we do, within easy walking distance of both Basel city and beautiful nature.

Those weekly walks and one supermarket trip per week were the only times I left the house in April. Work slowed down quite a bit and I had to finish early a few times. I tried to stay online longer on the days that I actually had enough to do and only ended up having to use four hours of overtime, which I then easily made up in the following months so it all worked out. We started watching Richard Osman’s House of Games (repeats, but we hadn’t seen them the first time round) and I got into colouring again after my friend sent me a colouring book, with the result that I only read 11 books in April – definitely not a bad amount, but very few for me!

In May Switzerland reopened even more and I finally got to go to the dentist… for the appointment that should have been in March! It turned out I needed a filling so I had to go back two more times, first for a cleaning and then for said filling. I jumped on the baking bandwagin and baked Zopf – a kind of Swiss bread – and Jan and I made a speciality of Graubünden called “Capuns.”

I received my new Swiss residence permit – ages after applying for it – meaning I am officially allowed to stay until 2025 no matter what happens with Brexit. Hurrah! We continued going for walks, including driving out to where some friends were staying and joining them for a socially distanced walk, and also drove to a village called Altreu that’s famous for its stork colony. We saw baby storks there. Baby. Storks!

I took part in the second Believathon and read nothing but children’s books for two weeks, which was lots of fun.

The fertility clinic reopened after two months and we got to go back. I had a transfer on 18th May and everything went perfectly. The embryo even managed to implant. Unfortunately I spotted basically from the day of the positive test. I ended up going in for an extra ultrasound on 10th June where they found no obvious cause for the bleeding (but it seemed to be related to the cervix) but I did see a heartbeat. Unfortunately when I went back for my regular scan 5 days later there was no longer a heartbeat. Based on the size they thought the embryo had stopped growing 2 days earlier at what would have been 6 weeks, 4 days. I had to keep taking hormones and come back 2 days later to make absolutely certain that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. The ultrasound at that appointment showed there was no heartbeat again and the embryo had actually shrunk, but my body showed no signs of wanting to miscarry naturally – what’s known as a missed or silent miscarriage. I was given the option of waiting to see whether my body would catch up or taking medication to induce it, and I chose the latter. First I was given mifepristone, which I had to take immediately with the doctor watching. You may have heard of it… it’s commonly known as “the abortion pill” but it’s also given in combination with misoprostol (Cytotec) to induce miscarriage or labour in cases of fetal death – the combination of the two makes it more likely that all the tissue will be expelled so no surgery if needed. So if you are “pro-life” have ever said/thought that mifepristone should be banned please remember that it’s not just for abortion. Without it I would most likely have needed a curettage to remove leftover tissue which is exactly what my already dodgy uterus does not need if I’m ever going to successfully carry a pregnancy to anywhere near term! I left the clinic with Cytotec, to be taken the following afternoon, and a prescription for strong painkillers. The next day, I lost our baby on the day I would have been exactly 7 weeks pregnant.

That was the second week in 2020 that I didn’t go for a walk… I think I had a good excuse though!

I cross stitched cards for two friends’ babies – the second child for each of them born 15 days apart. One boy, one girl.

Switzerland reopened even more and the border with Germany also reopened, although I chose not to go back to the office. Jan went into the office once because he needed to pick something up, so he ended up working there for a few hours, having lunch with some colleagues and then working from home in the afternoon. He also went to a socially distanced choir practice. Covid-19 case numbers at the beginning of the month were around 18 per day and around 60 by the end of the month. Figures that are actually unbelievable at this stage! Oh Switzerland… where did you go wrong?

July started with me having to go for an eye test due to itchy eyes and blurry vision. I ended up being prescribed glasses, although things have normalised now and I don’t really seem to need them any more. I’ve been told to use them as “relief” glasses for when my eyes are tired or strained after working for long periods of time. I then had weird sinus pressure/dizziness/headaches. After several trips to my doctor, blood tests and a referral to a ear, nose, throat specialist, I was told there was no sign of an infection. Although I had lots of mucus it looked clear and my nose was dry but not inflamed. Basically it looked to him like a classic case of allergies. I was prescribed a nose spray and decongestant pills (basically really strong eucalyptus capsules). The decongestant pills made everything taste like eucalyptus but provided almost immediate relief, meaning I could actually sleep! I’ve since had an allergy test (blood test) which revealed I am allergic to absolutely none of the things they tested for! Not trees, not various fruits, not nuts, not grasses, not moulds and not dust mites. However, I think I may be allergic to a certain brand of liquid soap because every time I use it to wash my hands I end up sneezing! For what it’s worth I had no fever, no cough, no sore throat and neither of the doctors I saw thought it was Covid related. My symptoms were very similar to the cold I had in March when we cancelled our trip to Poland, which made me wonder whether what I had back then was the same thing. There’s no real way of knowing though.

On the weekend after my eye test, I decided to rest my eyes (so no reading) and we drove out to Creux-de-Van, a giant circular rock formation in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. We had a lovely walk (staying at least 2 metres from other people at all times!). The scenery was really impressive – my photos do it absolutely no justice.

I went back to the fertility clinic in July for blood tests to rule out rheumatic conditions as a cause of my miscarriage/infertility – you’re supposed to have 3 miscarriages before those tests get approved but my doctor successfully argued that twins plus a single embryo meant I had miscarried three babies even if it wasn’t three pregnancies and that the five failed embryo transfers before the second miscarriage were also a cause for concern. One value was slightly high so I had to repeat the tests a few months later but the second time everything was normal, so that was not the explanation.

August was holiday month. Hurrah! Yes, we went on holiday during a pandemic. Yes I have been told I was irresponsible and selfish for even considering it, that it’s irrelevant that we spent most of the time in a car, kept our distance from other people and always wore masks indoors and that case numbers in Switzerland were around 150-200 per day at the time and most of those were in Geneva and Zurich – two places that we purposely avoided (to put things in perspective in November Switzerland was reporting around 10,000 cases per day and at the end of December the daily figure was 4,000-5,000). Never mind. We weighed up the risks and decided that as long as we were very careful we were okay with it. We had an amazing time touring Switzerland, and also celebrated my birthday towards the end of the holiday which was nice. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be turning 37 still childless but a tour week tour of Switzerland, delicious three course hotel meal, and watching the sunrise from a mountain on my birthday wouldn’t have been possible with young children so I can’t really complain too much.

The rest of August mostly just consisted of work (pretty quiet but I mostly had enough to do), cross stitch (birthday cards plus working on something for my brother’s 30th) and Richard Osman’s House of Games. Jan spent one whole (socially distanced) weekend at choir rehearsals/meetings so I used the time to start making Halloween cards for Post Pals. I also had an ultrasound to confirm that, after two periods, there was no tissue left in my uterus from the miscarriage and I would be allowed to continue treatment.

In September my godson turned 8, I continued making Halloween cards for Post Pals and I finished stitching my brother’s birthday present – unfortunately I can’t show you a photo because I forgot to take one. I had the repeat blood tests that I mentioned earlier (all normal) and started preparations for another transfer. I also went into the office in Germany for the first time since March to say goodbye to a colleague who was leaving. It was okay. The train home was full but not so much that I couldn’t get two seats to myself.

Switzerland decided to allow large events with up to 1000 people – including allowing crowds at football matches – from 1st October even though coronavirus cases had been steadily creeping up throughout September. So we started October with an average of around 300 new cases per day and ended it with around 7000 cases per day… a fact which surprised absolutely nobody except, apparently, the Swiss Government. Remember when I was irresponsible for going on holiday while we had less than 20 cases per day? Yeah…

Anyway, at the beginning of the month we got to do another embryo transfer. This time I spotted literally from the day of the transfer. Neither I nor the doctor expected it to have worked and we started discussing a new treatment that’s recently been improved. But somehow the pregnancy test was positive. Since my second beta hcg number had been pretty high I was given an appointment for an early ultrasound, at 5 weeks, 4 days. Again they could see no reason for the bleeding, no blood within the uterus. It was too early to see a heartbeat but they confirmed that there was a gestational sac and a yolk sac. The next day I started bleeding heavier after walking into town to buy some Christmas presents, but still went to Jan’s choir concert that night (hygiene measures in place, 8 rows distance between the choir and the audience and everyone in the audience had to wear masks) – one of the last concerts before the Swiss government realised their mistake and banned large events again. The following day, Sunday, the bleeding had died down in the morning but when I started passing clots at around lunch time I knew it was over. I emailed the clinic, who called me back and basically said to go and lie down, try not to worry and come for an ultrasound in the morning. The next day I called in sick to work, went to the fertility clinic and got confirmation of what I had suspected… the gestational sac was gone. At least this time I had passed everything naturally.

Jan’s friend started coming over to study a couple of times a week and I bought a table cloth to make the living room table look a bit nicer. At the end of the month I had an ultrasound to check that the miscarriage had completed. Thankfully it had and no surgery was necessary. And I ended the month with my annual autumn walk along the stream near where we live – with coronavirus cases rapidly increasing I was once again very grateful that we live where we do.

In November I made, wrote and posted Christmas cards for every single Post Pals family! That was a total of 44 cards. I also continued cross stitching cards for my own family and friends (I had made a start in October but didn’t get very far). I posted my cousin’s birthday present, plus a card that I had stitched in October, to New Zealand. Her birthday was on 12 December and it ended up arriving 3 days late even though I posted it earlier than usual this year!

I baked Vanillekipferl, attempted to start the pre-Christmas declutter (it made no difference – we still have too much stuff!) and bought myself a new dress. One of Jan’s choirs was supposed to have a concert but with events cancelled again they live-streamed it instead. It was actually quite nice to sit and watch from my living room with a cup of tea and my cross stitch.

At the beginning of December I had to go to the fertility clinic for an ultrasound on day 7 of my cycle to confirm that there was no tissue left in my uterus from the latest miscarriage. Everything looked good, which meant we could move on to the next step – an MRI to get a better look at my uterus and confirm my diagnosis. For a while we’ve been working on the assumption that I have adenomyosis. The MRI provided confirmation, so that’s definitely what caused my first 5 embryo transfers to fail and most likely what caused at least one of my miscarriages this year (with the first one it’s more likely to have been an issue with the embryo itself, but the second time there is a high chance that my uterus was unable to hold on to a perfectly good embryo). Recent studies have shown that an extended period of down-regulation before a frozen embryo transfer significantly increases pregnancy rates in women with adenomyosis, and my clinic has recently approved the procedure, so we’ll be trying that next time round. However, since we only have one embryo left, I’m going to do another full IVF stimulation round first. My doctor explained that affects of the down-regulation last a while, so if the final embryo transfer didn’t work it would be months before we could start a full cycle and get more embryos. This way we will have some waiting already, and if it does work out, we will have some frozen embryos made using my 37-nearly-38 year old eggs waiting for a potential sibling in the future. I will be at least 40 by the time we get to that stage and my egg quality will only get worse with each year that passes. So that’s what we’re going to do. If I’ve worked everything out correctly then in the absolute best scenario we can expect to have a baby in January 2022. And he or she will absolutely have been worth everything it took to get there!

Anyway… I’ve only just recapped December so I’ll make the rest of this quick. Work was busy, which I was actually grateful for. I ended the year with about 20 hours of overtime, which could be very useful with all the appointments involved in IVF (during stimulation there comes a point where I have an ultrasound every single day!). My mum and grandma got their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Many biscuits were baked… too many if I’m honest. I finished my Christmas cards and got them posted, sent my final box of Christmas gifts and then also took the packages for Jan’s family to the post office, where I stood in the longest queue I have ever seen there, and I once had to post gifts for Jan’s family 2 days before Christmas! I decluttered some more, cleaned and tidied everything ready for Christmas, and on the 23rd we finally bought our tree – we went to three places and at the third one bought the very last one they had. It was huge! Jan invited a friend round for Christmas Day and I made a traditional English Christmas dinner then avoided people entirely for the next 5 days (bar one supermarket trip) just in case I had picked up anything while socialising. We did go for walks but didn’t come into contact with anyone. New Year’s Eve involved stuffed peppers for tea, Christmas pudding, a Zoom call with some members of my family and drinking mulled wine on the balcony at midnight while watching the fireworks that other people were setting off (the few we could actually see from there). And then, finally, this incredibly strange and uncertain year was over.

So… what can I say about 2020? I know it was a terrible year for many people. For most people even. The world at large was an absolute shit show and I’m very aware that I haven’t really addressed that here. But honestly, while a lot of things came together this year, there has been a lot of crap going on out there for a while now that I have never addressed in my personal annual recap post so I’m not going to start now. This summary will all be personal to me.

At the end of 2019 I said I felt like I had spent most of the year in my own bubble, licking my wounds from what had come at the end of 2018 (losing our boys, my maternal grandmother dying a week later, my dad being diagnosed with cancer which is thankfully now officially gone). In 2020 I wanted to emerge from that bubble and really make the most of the year – see friends and family (my dad was actually going to visit us for the first time since the end of my year abroad in 2004!), visit places and do things that wouldn’t be an option if we actually succeeded in having a child. And then came the pandemic, forcing me to spend another year mostly at home, not seeing anyone. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world – we are in the very lucky position of having various technologies at our fingertips (I even got to see my mum and brother’s new house via Skype!), I got to spend more time with Jan since he wasn’t commuting and didn’t have choir rehearsals and other things basically every weekend, and we had time to explore our local area on some really enjoyable long walks. And we got to tour Switzerland, which in all honestly we probably wouldn’t have done if we’d been able to actually leave the country for a holiday. I can definitely see the positives in this year. But when it comes to the closing of the fertility clinic, meaning we lost two entire months of treatment (I could have done another IVF round and started the new treatment by now, ready for another transfer this month and potentially been looking at becoming a mother by October of this year), and the miscarriages I just cannot look on the bright side. Yes, I would have been giving birth during a pandemic (my due date for the first miscarriage would have been 3 February and things will definitely not be back to normal by then) but so have plenty of other people and while I’m sure they would have wished for a different birth experience all I want is a healthy, living, baby, and if that meant having to give birth wearing a mask, without Jan by my side, I would happily have taken that over the alternative. Empty arms and no idea whether parenthood is in the cards for us at all. So despite the bright sides, despite the fact that I am in the very, very lucky position of having barely been affected by the pandemic (nobody I know died, we were both able to work from home throughout, we still have our health, our home and each other), or any of the many other terrible things that have happened in 2020, once again this has not been a good year for me. Looking forward… I don’t even know what to say about 2021. Obviously things are not going to get back to any kind of normal until at least the summer, and even then who knows what that “normal” will look like. I already knew that humanity is inherently selfish, but this year has shown me that it’s even worse that I thought. So will things be better this year? I don’t know. Brexit is coming, the pandemic isn’t over, and honestly the whole world is a mess. But I do believe we can all do our bit to make the world a tiny bit brighter. So while I have no idea what 2021 is going to throw at me I am determined to face it with as much positivity and gratitude as I can muster up. I don’t expect starting a new calendar to magically make the world a better place, but I am happy to be able to draw a line under 2020 and look to what’s to come. My hopes for this year? That this new treatment will be the key to me actually getting – and staying – pregnant. (And if it isn’t at least I will be satisfied that we’ve tried all the options that are available to us – bear in mind that surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland and to adopt we would have to have been married for a minimum of 5 years, meaning even if we got married tomorrow it would be a long time before we could even be considered for adoption.) That I will be able to see and hug my family and friends in person. That Brexit won’t be as bad as I’m fearing and that life won’t get any worse for my family and friends in the UK, and that I will actually be able to keep my job despite the fact that I neither live nor pay taxes in Germany. That everyone I know will stay healthy – physically and mentally – despite all the challenges I’m sure are still to come.

I also hope that 2021 brings good things to you, dear reader. If 2020 has been a bad year for you then I hope it’s a better one and if you’ve managed to make it through unscathed and even have a good year then I hope that continues.

If you’ve actually read this far then THANK YOU! I have no idea why or how you read all that waffle, but you are actually, genuinely amazing! Happy New Year friends. Despite everything, we’re still here so if nothing else I feel like we can celebrate that.

Autumn walk 2020

At the end of October, I went for a walk along the stream near where we live, as I have every year since we moved to Basel. The second year, it was coincidence that I chose almost the same day for my walk, but since then I’ve made it a tradition. Now I am finally getting round to posting the photos from this year’s walk… only slightly too late!

We had such a dry summer and warm October that I’m not sure the trees had even noticed the change in season yet! There were quite a few brown leaves around, but most of those had turned brown during the hot, hot days of August. Many of the rest were still in their summer greenery. And others had given up entirely and were completely bare without having ever changed colour. Last year was pretty green as well, but I feel like there were a few other colours as well. But let’s have a look at the photos shall we?

And, for comparison, a photo from each of the years I’ve been doing this. The ones from 2017 and 2019 were taken in almost exactly the same spot, as were 2018 and 2020 (the 2020 one is a bit further back, but you can see the same curve in the path):

2015 was definitely the most orange – obviously Basel was bringing its best autumn colours for our first year here! Since then it’s been pretty green, although 2017 did a reasonable job with yellows. As temperatures continue to increase, I expect to see even more green as the years go by. Hopefully I’ll be around for a few more Octobers to find out!

August 2020 recap

Hello everybody! Here we are on the first Thursday of another month… is it just me or has September come around fast? As usual, I am linking up with the lovely Kristen to talk about what I did last month.

August was automatically a good month because we spent the first two weeks of it on holiday! We decided not to risk leaving the country, and instead did the Grand Tour of Switzerland (but in reverse – apparently you’re supposed to do it a specific way, which is why all the road signs only point in one direction. How does that make sense?!). We had an amazing time – drove over many mountain passes, saw lots of lakes, avoided people wherever possible. I know some of you are waiting to read all about our trip… by which I mean one person (who just happens to be Jan’s sister – hi!). I promise to get round to it soon. Sorting/resizing photos is just such a pain – but here are a few for now.

It was my birthday while we were away, so that was nice. We spent the night before in a mountain lodge so we got up ridiculously early to see the sunrise then went back to bed for an hour before breakfast. The next (and final) hotel wasn’t that far away, so even with a few stops it ended up being a day without too much driving, so we made it a fairly relaxed day and spent the afternoon in the spa at the hotel. In the evening we had dinner at the hotel, and Jan convinced me that I had to have dessert since it was my birthday. So overall it was a nice day – and in all honestly it kind of feels like the entire two weeks was one long birthday celebration so I can’t really complain!

August also marked the start of birthday cross-stitch season… which leads directly into Christmas cross stitch season (I am already late starting my Christmas cards!). Basically 90% of my free time for the rest of the year will be dedicated to cross stitch!

Other than that I didn’t really do much in August. Work, obviously, once we got home. I mostly had enough to do, but some days were a bit quiet. I finished ten books, which is less than usual but not bad considering I didn’t read a single page for the first 10 days of the month (despite taking two books on holiday with me!). Richard Osman’s House of Games came back on TV (repeats, but I only discovered it relatively recently so they’re still new to me) and we watched that. I love it – it’s the most fun thing currently on TV! I started making Halloween cards to send to Post Pals children. Jan had a socially distanced choir rehearsal/meeting/thing for the whole of last weekend (Friday evening, all day Saturday, most of Sunday – he came home for dinner on Sunday) so I used the time to stock up on craft stuff and then make cards.

That’s about it. Apart from the holiday my life remains as boring as ever. At least I was healthy in August! (Mostly – during my holiday I was still on the meds the doctor gave me so the allergies or whatever it was making me stuffy/dizzy in July and it took a while for them to fully work.)

I hope you’re all doing well. What’s new in your lives? Remember to check out the link up/say hi to Kristen.

July 2020 recap

Hello friends. It’s link up day with the lovely Kristen, so let me tell you about last month.

My July started with a trip to the eye clinic. I had noticed my left eye itching more than usual the week before, but didn’t really think anything of it. Then on the Monday I had a headache after work. When I logged on to the system on Tuesday, everything was slightly blurry (although interestingly reading books and looking at my phone was fine). Luckily I was able to get an appointment at the eye clinic the next day. After a thorough vision test, the doctor decided she wanted to test for latent far-sightedness and told me I would be given strong eye drops first. People, she was not kidding about them being strong! It took until Friday evening for my pupils to be mostly back to normal (bearing in my mind I got the drops on Friday afternoon). It was Cyclogyl, if you’re wondering. Anyway… after looking at my eyes through the machine thingy, I was told to make an appointment with the optics department upstairs to see about getting glasses for reading and/or computer work. They actually had one appointment left that afternoon, so since I already wasn’t going back to work (considering after the drops everything was blurry and it was impossible to read), I took the appointment. First I had a looong appointment with some kind of assistant, who took a thorough history and then had me do various things while she held different lenses in front of my eyes, then I went to see a second doctor. Her verdict was that I do have latent far-sightedness, which my eyes generally accommodate for, and the blurriness was caused by eye strain/dry eyes. I got a couple of sample packs of artificial tears (which I later bought more of) and was told to come back in 2 weeks. If things didn’t get better with the drops I would need glasses now, otherwise she would expect me to need them in a few years, once I reach 40. After using the artificial tears for two weeks I didn’t notice much difference so I now have glasses for working on the computer. Yay!

The day after I dropped off my glasses prescription I woke up with pressure behind my nose and a vague “coldy” feeling. It gradually got worse through the week until I had pressure my ears as well. When I woke up feeling dizzy on the Sunday night then felt dizzy again when I went online the next morning I contacted my doctor. I ended up going there twice that week because I felt dizzy/had headaches every time I tried to sleep, then I got a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist and was luckily able to get in on the Friday. He was pretty sure it was all the result of allergies (no sign of infection, my nose looks a little dry but otherwise healthy and not inflamed) so he proposed treating the symptoms first to give me some relief then doing allergy testing at a later date. The decongestant he gave me worked well enough that I was actually able to sleep for a stretch of more than an hour for the first time in 3 days which was nice, although it makes everything constantly taste of eucalyptus. So that’s where we are now. I’m taking the decongestant and a nose spray and while I still don’t feel 100% fit I’m much better and definitely well enough for a holiday. (For the record I’m not coughing, no fever, my symptoms are sinus related plus itchy eyes and when we’re not in the car we will be keeping our distance and using masks.)

People, I am almost *never* ill (didn’t have a single day off work for illness last year) so I am not loving the irony of having to visit multiple doctors (and not forgetting needing a filling back in May) during a flipping pandemic of all times! I’m not sure who I offended but I’m very sorry and I would appreciate it if you could lift whatever curse you’ve put on me now…

On the weekend after my first eye doctor appointment I decided to try and rest my eyes (so no reading and little phone time) and we drove out to Creux-de-Van, a giant circular rock formation in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. I saw a description of it as “the grand canyon of Switzerland” and while I wouldn’t go that far it’s pretty impressive.

The 26th July was my mum’s birthday and since they are moving soon I had flowers delivered to her rather than sending something she would need to pack.

And that was basically my July. I did manage to read quite a few books but other than that and our one day trip it was pretty much terrible – thanks unconfirmed allergies (or whatever you are). Oh, I hung some bunting on our balcony that I bought from Etsy ages ago. We still don’t have balcony furniture, but at least it’s a bit more colourful out there now.

Currently I am on holiday – this post was scheduled so hopefully will have actually posted – which means August cannot help but be a better month! (Right? Please let August be a better month!)

I hope you are all doing well and staying happy and healthy. Don’t forget to check out the link up!

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.

April 2020 recap

Well, I’ve made it through the first full month of semi-lockdown. Hurrah! Switzerland actually started lifting a very few restrictions towards the end of the month  – as of 27th April hairdressers, garden centres, DIY stores, medical massage practices, physiotherapists and dentists have been allowed to open again (I went to a dentist appointment yesterday that was originally supposed to be in March!). Of course, all of those things could only open with strict measures in place  – limited numbers of people allowed in, markings on the floor to show people where to stand while queuing, hairdressers and their customers must wear masks  – but we are slowly creeping towards a new kind of “normalcy”.

Anyway, I’m here to recap what I did in April so I shall get on with that. Linking up with Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

We went for a lot of walks, in every possible direction from our building. Once we walked along the stream until we were two towns over and saw maybe 8 other people, another day we went into the woods and it seemed like all of our town and half the city of Basel were there jogging, cycling and in some cases picnicking  (despite signs telling them not to). We won’t take that route again!

Apart from our weekly walk, the only other time I left the house was once a week to go to the supermarket. One socially-distanced walk a week plus one supermarket trip a week seems like a reasonable compromise between staying home and not getting completely sick of being indoors!

Jan has been sleeping late, starting work between 10 a.m. and noon, and obviously then working late. I’ve been starting work as normal (between 7:30 and 8 a.m.) but occasionally had to finish early because I had nothing to do. On days that I do have work I try to stay logged in for longer to make up for the shorter days, with the result that I ended April with only 4 hours of overtime fewer than I hard at the start. That means I still have plenty I can take if things don’t pick up.

Jan usually takes a break in the evening so we can eat together, then we watch Richard Osman’s House of Games. BBC 2 is currently showing repeats but I discovered the show late so I don’t mind that they’re old ones. It’s such a fun distraction from everything that’s going on! Apart from that I don’t watch a lot of TV but Jan always has it on when he isn’t working so he made me watch two Indiana Jones films. I had never seen them before and could have happily lived my life without ever seeing them. Terrible films! We also watched Wonder, which was actually good  – but not as good as the book, obviously.

Speaking of books, I read a mere eleven in April (I thought it was 10 but it turns out I missed one). Nowhere near as much as usual! I can’t say they were 11 particularly long books either. A couple were 400ish pages but some were really short. Mostly I got distracted by a colouring book my friend Naomi sent me and took way too long to remember that audiobooks are a thing. Plus Jan being here on weekends instead of at 12 million choir practices and events leaves me with less reading time (but more time with him so overall a win). I will tell you which books I read on Show Us Your Books day.

We wanted to support local businesses and we had been planning to look for frames for some art for months so Jan ordered some from a place in Basel then framed and hung the pictures. Seeing them on the walls makes me so happy! I ordered a book from the only independent book shop I’m aware of I’m Basel even though I could have got the same book for cheaper including delivery costs if I’d ordered it from the UK! So that’s my contribution to the local economy.

Sometime towards the end of the month I decided to swap my usual black tea for green tea. It’s really not the same but I’m sticking with it for now. Green tea is supposed to be a little healthier – although I’m not sure it can make up for all the chocolate I’ve been eating in lockdown! Speaking of which… I made cheesecake. It was supposed to be this but I couldn’t get the right caramel and ended up using the sauce you get for ice cream which obviously did not work! I think I know where I can get something better but it’s in town and I’ve been avoiding going into Basel while we’re in this isolation/lockdown situation. We have 5 supermarkets in our town (slightly weirdly given its size) so there’s no excuse to go further away!

cheesecake

I spoke to my dad a couple of times and we skyped with my mum and brother. Luckily all my family are healthy so far. My sister and brother are able to work from home and my little brother is doing his assigned school work. Shout out to my mum and her colleagues who are out there on the front line every day! (My mum’s ward is not a covid-19 ward but they still get patients who have it, and they are also a trauma ward now so are very busy and stressed while also dealing with staff shortages.)

That’s about all. Easter obviously happened in April but we didn’t do anything special. I wanted to try making hot cross buns but I couldn’t find yeast anywhere!

Oh, I forgot to mention in March that I made a card for my friend’s new baby. I posted it on 1st April – along with a gift, obviously – so I’m going to cheat and slot it in here because I want to show off ;-). It arrived after a mere two weeks (after something I sent to my friend’s sons in March took nearly a month) so it seems the postal service is somewhat getting back on its feet.

baby card

How was your April? I hope you are staying healthy and happy in these trying times! Check out the link up to see how everyone else has been spending their time at home.