A Photo an Hour: 22 April 2017

Saturday was April’s photo an hour date and I decided to join in on Twitter, and now on my blog. If anyone was following along on Twitter, you may notice that some of the photos here are slightly different. That’s because I used my phone for the Twitter photos but these ones were taken with my camera. In the case of the shots taken from trains, the scenery had already moved on by the time I took the second photo 😉

Here’s what I got up to:

8 a.m. Up way too early for a Saturday since we have a visitor coming. Tea is desperately needed!

9 a.m. Feeling more awake after my tea and a shower. Time to decide what to wear!

10 a.m. Jan went to meet our visitor from the train station since he needed to pick something up from a chemist near there, so I did some cross stitch while I waited for them to arrive.

11 a.m. We left the day’s plans up to the visitor and he chose a trip to Fribourg. 11 a.m. saw us on the bus to the train station.

12 noon. On a train,

1 p.m. We had to change trains in Bern, so we thought we would have a walk around there before continuing our journey.

2 p.m. Back on the train, just about to leave Bern train station.

3 p.m. In Fribourg (or Freiburg)

4 p.m. Jan knew some people who were performing in this festival thing, so we stopped by to see some of it.

5 p.m. A break between acts. I thought these lights were really cool!

6 p.m. This is the group where Jan knows a couple of people (they also sing in another choir that he is part of).

7 p.m. Waiting for the train home (or rather to Bern where we had to change again)

8 p.m. On the final train of the day, just about to arrive in Olten.

9 p.m. Time for dinner at the street food festival in Basel.

10 p.m. Still at the street food festival. Meat on sticks!

11 p.m. Back home having a much.needed glass of juice. I was thirsty!

After that we chatted for a while before heading to bed at around midnight. I could have taken a midnight photo, but I didn’t because I already had an even number to end with.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

How was your Saturday? Any interesting happenings?

Glasgow day 1 (New Year’s Eve)

Here we are almost at mid-March and I still haven’t posted about our New Year’s trip to Glasgow. Bad blogger! I shall at least partially rectify that now with an account of our first day there (we arrived the evening before but only went out to eat and back to our accommodation, so nothing really to tell there, especially since I did not take a photo of the food).

So, New Year’s Eve. We woke up to rain, rain rain, so the decision was made to go to a museum for the day. The forecast said that it would clear up in time for the evening’s festivities, so that was alright. After breakfast and showers, K headed into town to pick up our tickets for the street party that night and some food for the next day while Jan and I set out for a wander through Kelvingrove Park  – which our accommodation was right beside.

On reaching our destination (the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, pictured below) we discovered that it was closed that day – although the website had claimed it was open!

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Instead, we headed to the Hunterian Museum, which is located the University of Glasgow.

How pretty do these pillars look all lit up?

We entered the stairwell that leads up to the museum and discovered a robing room. My university didn’t have one of those! (It didn’t look this pretty either. *Sigh*)

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Glasgow University

The first exhibition we saw was about the Antonine Wall, which was very interesting to me. It was the more northern and less famous version of Hadrian’s Wall (which of course is located in “my” part of England). The Antonine Wall was mainly turf and was abandoned relatively quickly, so not much remains. We then saw some stuffed animals in cases, an exhibition about Lord Kelvin (he of the temperature scale) and a medical exhibition, that was fascinating and slightly creepy. Some photos of the inside of the museum (plus one looking out the window, trying to be artistic):

When the museum closed we decided to head back to the apartment for a drink and to warm up before heading out for dinner. As promised, the rain had stopped by the time we went back out (hey, the weather forecast got something right!). We ate at Mother India’s CafĂ© on K’s recommendation – and I can now officially say she was right, it was amazing! No photos though… I was too busy stuffing my face.
Curry done, it was on to the Ashton Lane Street Party.

The food at the stands outside smelled delicious, but we didn’t sample any because we were so full of curry! We did enjoy drinks from a few of the bars though – interesting ciders on offer! Ashton Lane is a cute little street, and thanks to being ticketed it wasn’t too crowded. The Irish pub was pretty full, but for the most part you could actually get to the bars to buy your drinks, and the toilet queues weren’t too insane – no worse than an average night out. Overall, I can recommend paying the fee for the sake of a nice night away from the idiots who are just out to get drunk. However, a note to sponsor Heineken (not that anyone there will ever read this): THROWING YOUR HUGE INFLATABLE BALLS AROUND AT MIDNIGHT WAS A BLOODY STUPID IDEA!! They were actually quite heavy and they hurt! Not cool! Grrr.

The fireworks were nice though:

(Don’t try to take photos of fireworks though chains of lights… it does not work!).

And that was the end of day 1! Day 2 involved sun, a cemetery and lots of walking. Hopefully it won’t take me another 2.5 months to get round to posting about it…

 

One night on Arran

Before we headed to Glasgow for New Year, our friend K asked us whether we would like to spend a night at her mum and step-dad’s place on Arran. Having never been to Arran, we jumped at the chance. After taking a train to Glasgow, eating lunch at the train station there and then jumping on another train to Adrossan Harbour, we were finally on a ferry to the island. The sun was just starting to set as the ferry left. (The photos below were taken with sunset mode… it wasn’t actually that dark ;-))

I didn’t get any decent photos as we approached the shore, so I’ll just skip ahead a bit…

After a lovely evening with K’s family and a good night’s sleep, we were up bright and early so we could see something of the island before taking the ferry back across to the mainland. We went for a nice long walk with the dog. Check out the gorgeous scenery!

My camera couldn’t do it justice… in real life it’s even prettier!

After a lunch of pancakes, made by K’s lovely mum, we were dropped back off at the ferry port for the trip back over to the mainland (and on to Glasgow). Here are some photos from the ferry crossing:

In the interests of fairness, I should mention that the last set of photos was taken by Jan… I chose staying cosy inside the ferry over going out in the wind.

Arran is stunning and it’s a shame we only got to spend a short time there. I would definitely like to go back some time, preferably in summer when it stays light for longer in the evening.

Have you been to any Scottish islands? What did you think?

My 2016

I’m sure you’re all sick of recap posts, what with my monthly recent doings/participation in the what’s new with you? link up, but I always review my year and I’m not about to break tradition now 😉 If you really don’t care what I did this year, you might want to stop reading at this point…

January

We invited some friends from Karlsruhe down to spend New Year with us, so after a dinner of raclette (So. Much. Raclette) we headed down to the banks of the Rhine and, for the first time ever, saw in the New Year in the actual town that we were living in! I’m not sure whether people were scared of large gatherings after Paris or everybody always leaves Basel for the New Year, but either way there was plenty of space and we had an amazing view of the fireworks.

Our friends stayed until the 2nd, so New Year’s day saw us taking a walk around the local area with them and the 2nd became a museum day since it was chucking it down! We went to the PapiermĂŒhle (Paper Mill). The next day, Jan and I headed to Zurich for a Lego exhibition called The Art of the Brick – such a cultural weekend 😉

The reason we hadn’t spent Christmas in Germany (although it would technically have been my family’s “turn”) was because we planned to go over for my sister’s 30th birthday, on the 7th. I needed to present her with her birthday gift myself because it was awesome! After a few days there, we headed back to Switzerland and I finally went back to work on 12th January. This was also the month that we spontaneously decided to take a trip to New Zealand.. as you do.

At the end of the month, we saw Dylan Moran perform in Basel. He was very funny.

February

February is always such a dreary month, don’t you think? Spring isn’t in the air yet, but it’s been winter for so long that you start to feel it should be! Luckily the weather did brighten up at least once, an occasion we took advantage of for a trip to Arlesheim. We had a look in the cathedral and found two castles.

The people of Basel know how to deal with the dreariness of February! This month also saw us attending our first Fasnacht (Carnival), starting with the Morgestraich at 4 am! Our little town also had its own mini Fasnacht where I managed to collect a lot of sweets and, randomly, a sausage. Right at the end of the month we had some visitors, so we had a fun weekend of showing them around Basel.

February is also the month Jan and I got together, and in 2016 we celebrated 12 years as a couple!

March

Our visitors moved on to Lausanne and, since we hadn’t been there yet, we decided to join them for a day. It was raining when we arrived so we went to the Olympic Museum, then the sun came out and we had a look round the old town. Finally, the day ended with snow! Three seasons in  day… it was almost like being back in Britain!

We then didn’t do much until mid-month when it was off to New Zealand, baby! We had the most amazing time there, meeting up with my cousin in Devonport, exploring the south island (and finding Paradise), visiting my uncle in Rotorua where I met his little daughter for the first time and he took us to Hobbiton… every single minute was just magical! The best spontaneous decision ever.

April

After two weeks in New Zealand, April was a bit of a let down. We did at least manage to buy a wardrobe though (well, order one… we had to wait another 2 months for delivery!) and on the 26th it was exactly one year since I had moved to Switzerland. I only managed to take one trip all month… to a neighbouring town – Allschwil.

May

This was another slow month, although we did manage to go hiking on the 5th. The only other things I can remember doing in May are briefly visiting a street food festival and seeing a concert by the Philadelphia Philharmonic orchestra. I think I also read a lot?

June

There was some football thingy on in June, I believe? 😉 We didn’t actually watch much of the Euros this time and the few matches I did see were fairly boring, but it was impossible to avoid it entirely. I think we saw two Switzerland matches? We also finally received our wardrobe in June, although it wasn’t put up until July because one part was missing!

In terms of travel, at the beginning of the month, we had a weekend away in GraubĂŒnden, so that’s another canton we can cross off the list. We arrived before the hiking paths were officially open for the season but decided to brave the snowy trails anyways. The views were stunning but we didn’t make it to the source of the Rhine.

At the end of the month my mum and brother visited and I had a great time showing them around Basel. We also visited Zurich and the Rhine Falls – you can’t beat a good waterfall – and on another day took a walk from Mariastein Abbey to the ruins of Landskron Castle.

The UK’s EU referendum also happened in June, but we won’t talk about that…

July

Finally the missing piece of our wardrobe was delivered and the wardrobe was put together! As sad as it sounds, actually being able to put all my clothes away properly was one of the highlights of my year (apart from New Zealand, obviously. Nothing tops that). Jan’s mum and her partner came to visit near the end of the month and we climbed the tower in Basel cathedral, and on the very last day of the month we went for a hike around DelĂ©mont before watching the fireworks for Switzerland’s national day (actually on 1st August, but Basel is greedy and has fireworks twice).

We also went to see Travis perform  in Arlesheim during July – a blast from the past!

August

1st August is a holiday in Switzerland, but not in Germany so while Jan slept I had to work. *Sigh* Next year I’m seriously considering taking the day off!

The first event of the month was a wedding in Luxembourg. My former colleague, who is German, married a Hungarian so it was all very international! It was a beautiful day and a fantastic wedding.

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which was nice. No need to take time off! K came down for the weekend and we had a fabulous day in Bad SĂ€ckingen in Germany.

We continued the celebrations with cocktails that evening and a barbecue by the river the following day. Not too shabby!

I attended a jazz festival at the end of the month, but it wasn’t much fun by myself.

Apart from that, Jan and I swam in the Rhine a couple of times… because that’s what you do in Basel.

September

In September Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons hosted a Breat British Bake Off Bakealong and I took part a few times. I even experimented with making a toad in the hole with meatballs. This was also the month that my brother turned 10, my godson turned 4 and my sister got engaged! Lots of celebrations going on.

Jan’s dad visited us in September, which we didn’t think was ever actually going to happen! Every time we brought it up he had other plans, then he suddenly wrote to say “I’ll be there next weekend.” Umm, okay. Luckily we didn’t have plans 😉 After spending a day showing him round Basel, we took him to Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica. (He and Jan also to Rigi but we won’t discuss that since I had to work that day!)

I took the last week of September off work to use up some holiday and spent most of my time reading and cleaning. I did manage a walk in the woods and a visit to a castle ruin in between though. (Hmm, come to think of it I haven’t blogged about that castle yet…)

October

We started October with a trip to a pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg. I loved the food but thought last year’s sculptures were better.

I also started the month by falling over and hurting my knees, resulting in me spending the rest of the month hobbling around and having to visit doctors. Grr, so silly! Other October events included my other brother’s birthday (I made him a card), a training course on banking for work, and a visit from two friends who wanted to see Jan perform with one of his choirs. And, as you may have deduced from the previous sentence, October involved Jan performing with choirs… and accordingly Jan rehearsing with choirs so I didn’t see all that much of him.

November

Another month, another visitor 😉 No, not really, but it felt a bit like that this year. A friend from Karslruhe came for a weekend and we visited an art exhibition on Kandinsky, Marx and der blaue Reiter. (But of course you know that because I only just wrote about it).

Jan’s mum turned 60 in November and we took a trip up north(ish) for her birthday brunch then came back down and spent one weekend doing not very much (well, I spent it working on Christmas cards) before hosting more visitors the following weekend: my mum, brother and two of my mum’s friends. They got incredibly lucky with the weather and we had a really nice time looking around Basel and, of course, checking out the Christmas markets. Jan and I also went to see West Side Story while they were here (yes, I abandoned my guests but in my defence the tickets were a birthday present and I’d forgotten it was that weekend).

December

After so many busy weekends, the first weekend in December was a quiet one. I mainly cross stitched more Christmas cards and got the guest room ready because… the weekend after that we had more visitors. My sister and her fiancĂ© this time. More showing people round Basel, more Christmas market. Lots of fun.

Also, something I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet because the next monthly recap won’t be happening until next month, while she was here my sister asked me to be her bridesmaid! So I have that honour to look forward to next year.

The rest of December hasn’t happened yet, but let me tell you about it anyway… this evening we are meeting some friends to eat cheese fondue before we all go our separate ways for Christmas. I will work for four days next week, then on Friday we will get on a plane at a ridiculously early hour and fly to England – we change in London this time and while we’re between flights I plan to track down a proper British sausage sandwich. Mmmm! Christmas will be spent with my family, the remainder of the time in England will be spent trying to catch up with as many friends as possible (remember, I haven’t been over since January!) and then, on 29th December, we shall catch a train to Glasgow and spend the rest of the year having K show us all the best places to eat up there. Oh, and at some point some bells will ring and we will welcome another year. Hopefully an awesome one!

Well, for some reason I thought 2016 had been slower than other years (apart from the crazy bit at the end with visitors, visitors and even more visitors), but looking at it all together like that, it has actually been jam-packed! New Zealand was definitely the highlight, of course, but there have been  a few other good times in there as well. And we actually travelled more than I thought we had, even if most of it was local.

Of course, other things have been happening, not all of which are suitable for the blog, and I am really hopefully that some plans will come to fruition in 2017. Fingers crossed!

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2016

Ludwigsburg KĂŒrbisfest 2016

Wow, I have actually reached October in my travel posts, which means I’m almost caught up with #Take12Trips, Take 2.

This year, we went to the pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg again. A Finnish friend we have made in Basel (who from now on shall be referred to as The Finn) plus two friends from Karlsruhe also joined us.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, the theme this year was “circus”, or rather “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town”. Apparently, that was mostly interpreted as clowns (if you don’t like clowns you may want to look away now…)

Even those who don’t mind clowns have to admit the last one is creepy. A clown throwing knives? Who came up with that?

There were a few other things as well:

This little group is called the Hubbard Family (because they’re carved using hubbard pumpkins). Personally I like to think of them as the Dumpty family because they remind me of Humpty Dumpty ! (I know he’s usually pictured as an egg and was actually probably a cannon). They’re the work of American artist Ray Villafane and the Hubbard family was featured in Ludwigsburg for the 4th time in a row in 2016 (although I don’t remember seeing them last year).

Here are some more photos from around the festival:

This year I ate pumpkin Maultaschen in pumpkin soup, orange and hokkaido ice cream and pumpkin strudel. All were delicious!

While wandering around, we spotted a bird. A survey of my Facebook friends came to the conclusion that it’s a common buzzard:

Once we’d seen everything at the actual festival, we had a wander round the fairytale garden then went looking for the aviary. There weren’t many birds around – I’m sure there were more when I went there before? It was raining on and off all day though, so maybe they were all hiding somewhere dry?

Of course, before heading home we hit the shop and bought a few pumpkin varieties that aren’t available in supermarkets plus some pumpkin seed pesto.

Despite the rain, it was a fun day out (although I thought last year’s “flight” theme had some more interesting interpretations for the sculptures!).

The festival has finished for this year since I’ve taken so long to write my post, but if you’re in the Stuttgart area definitely look out for it next September/October. This year’s festival took place from 2 September-6 November and next year’s will probably be roughly the same.

This was my October trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica

Wow, my last post got a bit deep, didn’t it? I think it’s about time I counteracted that with another travel post.

In September, Jan’s dad came to visit us for a weekend and we took a day trip to Rheinfelden and Kaiseraugst. I’ve already shared photos of Rheinfelden on the blog once, but our last visit was in December. This time the sky was a lot less grey!

We didn’t cross over into the German Rheinfelden on this visit (it’s really not worth it, except to say you walked across a border), but we did go onto the little island that can be accessed from the bridge. It was a boiling hot day and plenty of people (and dogs!) were bathing in the river.

Once we’d seen enough of the island, it was time to head back to the train station and on to Kaiseraugst, home of the Augusta Raurica Roman site.

We walked for ages through farmland, the sun baking us alive and birds circling overhead.

Eventually we spied some Roman ruins. This is the ruins of a temple:

We had been following signs for the amphitheatre because we thought that was what we wanted to see. Turns out there isn’t much left of the amphitheatre:

What we were actually looking for was just the plain old theatre, so that’s where we headed next.

Aha… that’s more like it!

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Augusta Raurica hosts events throughout the summer (including a Roman festival) and on this particular day they were setting up for a concert. Luckily we managed to get in and have a look around before they blocked off the entrances.

There’s also an indoor museum area (with a Roman house), which we did not go into, and a few other Roman bits and bobs dotted around.

After enjoying a nice cold beer, we walked back towards town past the train station and down to the river… instead of taking another train, the plan was to travel back to Basel by boat. We had a bit of time to spare, so we took off our shoes and stood on some steps with our feet in the water. It was lovely and refreshing!

The boat back to Basel passes through two locks, at the Augst and Birsfelden run-of-the-river power plants.

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll only include a few of the photos I took during our boat trip. Also, until we were actually approaching Basel I have no idea where the majority of the photos were taken.

Our boat was the Christoph Merian, for those who are interested.

All in all it was a lovely day out and one I would definitely take again if future visitors showed an interest.

This was my September trip for Take 12 Trips 2016 (I’m slowly catching up!)

Recent doings #11

Another month has gone, and now it’s November. Aaah!! Less than two months left until 2016 is over! While I’m hoping for good things in 2017, I’m so not ready for it to be here yet.

Anyway, before I completely dissolve into panic, it’s time to look back on October as Gretch and Kristen ask “What’s new with you?“.

What's New With You

Firstly, as some of you may have seen on Twitter, I managed to fall over right at the beginning of the month and land heavily on both my knees, so I spent most of October not being able to work properly. I did call the doctor after waiting a week (plus one day because it was a Sunday) and was told it probably wasn’t anything serious and to come back in a week if it wasn’t better. The following week I was actually not in Basel so I couldn’t go, and after that I decided that since I wasn’t in pain and could manage stairs okay again I would just leave it. My legs are still a bit stiff and annoying at times, but the bruising has gone and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be fine.

Despite having to hobble around, I managed to get up to quite a lot, as you will see below:

Reading. After finishing my last few books for Erin’s challenge, I wanted something a bit lighter (and more modern) so I started reading The Dandelion Years by Erica James. Then I didn’t even finish it because November happened and it was time to start Megan’s winter challenge. *Sigh*

Visiting. The pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg. I preferred last year’s theme, but it was still a fun day out. And I got to see my friends, which is always a win! (Blog post to follow… eventually.) That was before I fell over luckily since the festival always involves quite a bit of walking around!

Ludwigsburg KĂŒrbisfest 2016

Attending. A seminar in Frankfurt for work. It was all about banking terminology… not my most favourite subject.

Listening to. Jan singing in choirs. He had concerts with two different choirs in October so of course I went.

Buying. Christmas presents. Last year a few didn’t arrive in time even though I thought I had ordered them far enough in advance, so this year I’m being extra organised. Also the most amazing pair of tights.

Cross stitching. Still pictures for Christmas cards… lots and lots of Christmas cards. I think I have about half of them done now, ready to actually be transformed into cards. Also, a Santa shaped like a star that I wanted to experiment with turning into a Christmas tree ornament. It worked really well! *Proud face*

santa-star

Subscribing. To another cross stitch magazine… because one subscription clearly isn’t enough. Sadly they would only let me start my subscription from January, February or March next year! I was hoping for the December issue at least so I could get more Christmas designs (I subscribed two weeks ago – you’d think that would be plenty of time for them to get me on the December mailing list?!)

Arranging. To host more visitors. Apparently everyone wants to see the Christmas markets. First my mum and brother are coming again, this time with a friend of my mum’s as well, and then my sister and her fiancĂ© will be here for a weekend (oooh, first time I’ve written “sister’s fiancĂ©“!).

Eating. Pumpkins, purchased at the pumpkin festival, and also chickpeas. I seem to put chickpeas in everything lately.

I think that’s all that’s been happening in my world. What have you been doing recently?