February 2020 recap

Hello friends. Post from me two days in a row? You lucky, lucky people! (Ha, I kid… obviously). I had to post today because it’s the first Thursday of the month and I need to link up with one of my favourite bloggers… the wonderful Kristen. She is awesome and you should really go over there and say hi.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I did last month, shall we?

whats new with you

Travel

Yes, we actually went places in February. Are you impressed? First, we went to Baden for an afternoon, which was the weekend after our anniversary so I called it our anniversary celebration (oh yeah… Jan and I have been together 16 years as of 5th February. We did not celebrate on the day though. Actually, Jan forgot that it was the 5th until I gave him a card/gift in the evening soo…). Baden is a spa town – the name means Bath – and we took towels, etc. thinking we might visit one of the thermal baths but that whole area of town was being renovated! We did get to out our feet in a hot pool near the river though. It’s a cute little town sandwiched between hills, with a great view of snow-capped mountains.

Then those of you that saw my photo an hour post will know we went to St Gallen for a weekend. We had been there before, when I was living in Austria, but I remembered absolutely nothing of what we saw that time and walking around the town nothing looked at all familiar so who knows what we even did that first time? We briefly saw the old town on the Saturday before it got dark, then on the Sunday we went for a walk up a hill (and saw more mountains in the distance) before visiting Rorschach, which is on Lake Constance. Sadly, after a beautiful day on the Saturday while we were mostly on the train, Sunday ended up being warm but clody. Oh well, you can’t have everything and it was nice to get away.

St GallenSt Gallen mountain view

Reading

I posted the first half of my reading round-up yesterday, so if you’re really interested you can have a look at that. Part 2 will be coming soon, but I can tell you know that there was quite a mixture – thrillers, non-fiction, children’s books. Wait and see 😉

Watching

We finished watching Good Omens and it was awesome. So well done! Which honestly was to be expected after the amount of effort Neil Gaiman put into it. Now I’m sad that it’s over. We also watched Edward Scissorhands because Jan randomly found it and I ended up waiting until it finished before going shopping. I don’t know if I watched anything else… Jan is always finding random things that I mostly ignore. If it’s a film I will sometimes watch, but now I can’t remember if they were in February or it was already March!

Craft stuff

I’ve been doing quite a bit of stitching again. Two birthday cards for friends’ children and a new baby card for a baby boy who is due in April – although so far it’s just the stitching, I haven’t made it into a card yet. I also made Valentine’s cards for a few Post Pals children because I had heart shaped cutting dies I wanted to try out. I only remembered to take a photo of one though!

Other/miscellaneous

– There’s not much else to say to be honest. At the beginning of the month I went to the doctor with acid reflux/heartburn and stomach pain. I was diagnosed with gastritis, most likely caused by stress and given proton pump inhibitors to take for 2 weeks. When I told Jan he said I didn’t have much stress… I’m very glad to hear that IVF and infertility are entirely unstressful for him! Needless to say he was soon put right 😉 I also pointed out that on top of the fact that failing to conceive is generally a source of stress (for people who aren’t him, at least!), I had two procedures involving my uterus in January, neither of which was pleasant (although I was admittedly anaesthetised for one of them). He conceded that okay, maybe trying to juggle constant doctor’s appointments around work without anyone getting suspicious, being on hormones for months at a time, etc. is possibly at least a little stressful! Phew, way too many brackets there. Anyway… I took the tablets and things seem to be better now, at least for the time being.

– Work was pretty slow for most of the month. I actually got a few large jobs in the last week of February that were just about enough to fill my time, but the other full-time English translator had very little to do. I honestly prefer being overworked to underworked… an empty plan makes me nervous! Hopefully things will pick up again.

– I’ve been pretty consistently using a eye cream that I got for Christmas and so far I haven’t noticed any difference… the lines are there, just as deep as ever. At least they’re not getting worse, I guess? If you’re reading this and you’re in your late twenties to early thirties, please start using cream under your eyes now. Trust me, you will thank me when you don’t wake up one day in your mid-30s and realise you look old!

– The decluttering continues. I put out another box of things with “free” written on it, including two candle holders that I never particularly liked. They were in there for ages after everything else had gone (although someone took the scented candles I had left inside them!) but eventually both the box and the candle holders disappeared… so now I’m not sure whether anyone actually took them to keep or just binned them, and I’ve also lost the box that I use to put things I want to give away outside. I checked afterwards and it wasn’t with all the paper that was waiting for collection (last Friday was paper day) so I don’t know where it is! Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have plenty of empty boxes.

Okay, this is beginning to get boring. You don’t want to know about my crow’s feet and attempts to rid myself of stuff! I thought I would have a lot to say this month but apparently I did less than I thought. Saw a little of Switzerland. Read a lot of books. A fairly standard month really.

What did you all get up to in February? Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to check out the link up!

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!

A decade in review

People have been recapping their decades on Instagram and Facebook, and some (like Hazel) in blog posts. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share a photo from each year of the last decade along with a brief outline of the main events of that year.

wire bridge
Steall Wire Bridge. Glen Nevis

2010: We started the decade at a house party in Padua, Italy where Jan’s sister was living at the time. Jan turned 30. We watched Germany play Argentina in Munich (the stadium was freezing!). Jan and I moved in together. I wrote my Master’s dissertation. We travelled around Britain with a friend – see photo above. I got my  Master’s in translation and passed my probation period at work. We spent Christmas in England and then went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.

Paris Louvre

2011: My grandma’s dog died – RIP Copper. We took a trip to Paris to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday. For the first time, we didn’t visit one of our families for Christmas, but spent it in our own home instead. I really wanted to see Austria again, so our New Year’s trip was to Salzburg.

De Valk windmill
De Valk windmill in Leiden – now a windmill museum

 

2012: Our family dog, Barney had to be put down. We visited friends who were living in Delft in the Netherlands – the photo above is from that trip. I randomly met K at a beer festival, and she became one of my best friends. My sister visited us in Karlsruhe with her then boyfriend and we took them to see the Formula 1 at Hockenheim. We had a holiday in Stockholm, which I loved. My godson was born and we got to meet him when he was just 10 days old. For New Year, we headed to Luxembourg to visit a friend.

Kilkenny
The River Nore and Kilkenny Castle

2013: Jan went to Turkey with work and ended up having his appendix removed there. We saw Eddie Izzard in Berlin. We saw a wheelchair rugby Champion’s League match in Karlsruhe. Road trip round Ireland with friends from our quiz team. I went to England for my mum’s 50th birthday and my godson’s christening – but Jan ended up going to hospital with stomach pains instead of getting on the plane! I turned 30, got drunk and cried because I was neither married nor a mother and felt like my relationship was going nowhere. We saw the Rocky Horror Show in its 40th anniversary year. I had my wisdom teeth removed. We returned to Feldkirch, Austria for the first time since I was living there (it hadn’t changed much). We headed to Madeira for the New Year, which I think was our best New Year’s trip yet (potentially tied with Edinburgh).

Wen Wu Temple
Wen Wi Temple, Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan

 

2014: My colleague went on maternity leave (and my other colleague was still on parental leave) so I spent the entire year as the only English translator at work. It was a very busy year! Jan and I celebrated 10 years of being in a relationship. My Grandpa went into hospital in February and I was luckily able to get time off work at short notice to visit him. He turned 80 in April and passed away at the beginning of May. We saw Pearl Jam in Vienna (I gave Jan the tickets for his birthday). My brother visited us in Karlsruhe and we took trips to Strasbourg, Basel (little knowing we would be living there a year later!), the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Jan had to go to Taiwan for work so I joined him there for a week after the conference. Jan, K and I went to Paris for a Welcome to Night Vale live show. We visited what is still my favourite Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern with friends. Jan was offered a job in Switzerland and we decided to start trying for a baby after the move. We decided on Zurich for the New Year so we could get a taster of our new country.

Samoa-Scotland
Rugby World Cup 2015 – Samoa vs Scotland

2015: We moved to Switzerland and I started telecommuting. I went to my cousin’s wedding, which was attended by the most family members I’d seen in once place for about 20 years! My friend from Luxembourg came to Basel to watch the Lion King musical with us.  We took a trip to England where we saw three Rugby World Cup matches. In October, once Jan was sure he would be staying at his new company, we started trying for a baby. For the first time ever, we didn’t go away for New Year, but instead invited friends to come and spend it with us in Basel.

Hobbiton

 

 

2016: My sister turned 30. We attended our first Fasnacht in Basel. Three old friends from university days came to visit. We spent two weeks in New Zealand! My mam and brother came to visit. The EU referendum happened (ugh). We attended my friend’s wedding in Luxembourg. Jan’s dad came to visit. In November, Jan’s mum turned 60. We were referred to a fertility specialist after 13 months of unsuccessful trying to get pregnant. My mam and brother visited for the second time in one year, this time with two of my mam’s friends. My sister and her fiancé (now husband) visited for a weekend to see the Christmas markets. We spent Christmas in England with my family and New Year in Glasgow with K.

Chienbäse4
Fire parade in Liestal

2017: Attended the Liestal fire parade for the first time. Spent Easter in Berlin with K. Took a trip to Champagne, where we drank Champagne (an item from my 35 before 35 list). Took a trip round England (and a tiny bit of Scotland) and got to meet Kezzie. I tried eating insects. My sister got married and I was a bridesmaid. For New Year, we went to Geneva with a friend.

Geneva light festival
Lights in Geneva

2018: Decided to switch fertility doctors. I got pregnant with twins via IUI. After months of being unsettled at work and being unsure what to do, Jan was offered a new job and decided to take it. My mam, brother and a friend of my mam’s visited. Just as we thought things were finally going well, I lost the babies. A week later, my maternal Grandma died. My other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted and then my dad diagnosed with cancer. We buried the boys in November, then Jan started his new job in Zurich and immediately had to go to California – so my mam and sister came to keep my company for a few days (although I was back at work by then). We spent a quiet Christmas and New Year in Basel.

Gibraltar5
Monkey Mountain, Gibraltar

2019: Found out our December IUI had failed and tried another one, which also failed. Celebrated 15 years together. Started IVF in the middle of a renovation (in retrospect, maybe not my best idea?). Went on holiday to Spain and Portugal. I celebrated a decade in the same job. Had four failed embryo transfers and one successful and one failed hysteroscopy. Spent Christmas in England with my family, then ended the decade in Basel with board games, cheese and friends – a much quieter night than the house party the decade had started with!

2020 fireworks

It has certainly been an eventful decade! We travelled a fair amount – not as much as some, but given the state of the environment, I think it was enough, and we saw some amazing places. There were plenty of good times, but also some very, very bad times. I have grown up a lot, and I feel like we’ve also grown as a couple, particularly since we moved to Switzerland in the middle of the decade. Before that we almost broke up on more than one occasion, but now I feel like we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. We’ve made it through the toughest of times and come out the other side, still together and still in love. No matter what happens next, I know I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me so far and there’s something to be said for that. I’m hoping this new decade will bring more growth, more adventures, and lots of happy memories.

2019: Hold on for One More Day

Last year I quoted a song in the title of my yearly recap post, so I thought I’d do it again, and having found myself singing the chorus of this Wilson Philips song more than once this year it seemed fitting.

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

That meant one more day of no proper toilet, one more day of dust, one more day of avoiding a kitchen and bathroomless home as much as possible. But also one more day of injections, one more day of progesterone pessaries, one day closer to finding out whether, this time, things had worked out. Usually there was actually more than one day still to go, but I kept telling myself to just give myself this injection, just get today’s appointment out of the way, and somehow it actually helped. But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

We pretty much started the year with the news that our second IUI had failed. Well, that’s not strictly true. My blood test was on the 5th so we had four days of thinking there was at least a possibility I could be pregnant. Alas, it was not to be. Other than that January was a fairly uneventful month. We took a couple of day trips within Switzerland but mostly I worked a lot and tried not to think about the fact that I should have been going on maternity leave at the end of the month.

Einsiedeln Abbey
Einsiedeln Abbey

My paternal grandmother turned 80 at the end of January (the 27th to be precise), so the weekend after her birthday we flew out to celebrate with her. We flew over after work on Thursday, 31st January, and after one delayed plane and running to catch our connection, we made it to Newcastle but our suitcase did not. It finally turned up the next day, but not until after we’d been out for a meal with my grandma. Luckily I’d packed spare underwear in my hand luggage and the outfit I wore on the plane didn’t look too awful ;-). And being forced to stay in all day gave me a chance to go through some of the stuff I still had at my dad’s. I got rid of a lot, but there are still many books from my childhood that I want to keep and therefore need to pick up eventually. I brought 7 books back with me from that trip but there are still many more waiting for me! The Saturday was spent with my mum and partly with my brother before he had to go to work. And then on Sunday, 3rd February, we flew back to Switzerland… it was the briefest of trips.

Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison statue in Morpeth

5th February was Jan’s and my anniversary – 15 years since we got together! We couldn’t celebrate that night since Jan was working late but we went out for a lovely meal at the weekend. On the last weekend of the month, we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Lugano. It was so nice to get away and relax for a weekend, just the two of us. Especially since I did a lot of overtime that month and, in between everything else, I had spent two weeks of that month giving myself injections for another IUI cycle. As you already know, it failed, which we found at at the beginning of March. With that went our last chance for a 2019 baby. We then made the decision that we wouldn’t continue with IUI, but would move on to IVF. A big step. March was also the month of my due date for the twins, would have been my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday (you may remember she passed away a week after I lost the boys) and it was Mother’s Day in the UK. Definitely a month of just surviving the best I could. It wasn’t all bad though. Jan had his birthday on the 1st, we saw How to Train Your Dragon at the cinema and Sarah Millican in Zurich. Jan’s dad came to stay for a couple of days, and Jan and I went to Meiringen where we failed to see the Aare Gorge since it was closed, but did get to go up the local mountain.

Hasliberg view
View from Hasliberg

April was slightly quieter at work, which was nice after being incredibly busy up until mid-March. We also had a new colleague start so after two years I was no longer the only full-time English translator! Obviously he needed some time to find his feet and couldn’t do every job right away, but it did take some of the pressure of me.

I started injections for IVF the week before Easter, which meant we couldn’t go away as we had originally planned since I had to be around for appointments. Instead, we spent an afternoon at the zoo in Zurich (after a morning appointment at the clinic). The nurse called after my blood test result came in to tell me I needed to start Orgalutran that day – the medication to stop my body from ovulating by itself, which you obviously don’t want in IVF – so I had to go and do that in the toilets. That one involves a proper syringe rather than just a pen so I preferred to do it in private. Later, when I sat on a bench to do my hormone injection (the one to make the eggs grow) it decided to bleed madly all over the place, which had never happened before in 3 rounds of IUI! Luckily Jan being a diabetic is used to needles so he was able to sort out the used needle, etc. while I stopped the flow of blood. And my response to the medication wasn’t affected – my retrieval was the Saturday after Easter and they managed to get 22 eggs (18 of which were mature). We celebrated that success with a trip to Gruyère. Most people would probably go and lie down after an egg retrieval but by that time the renovation was in full swing and we really didn’t want to go home to dustville. I took it pretty easy – no massive hikes – and it all ended up being fine.

Since they got so many eggs, I wasn’t allowed to do a fresh transfer because of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, so May ended up being a month off. Given that we were living on a literal building site at the time that was probably a good thing!

construction21

Then, on the 18th, we flew out to Spain to join my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. We had a lovely long weekend in Ronda, then after everyone else flew back to England Jan and and I continued to Cádiz (via Gibraltar) and then to Lisbon. It was definitely a much needed break… from everything. Construction and infertility treatments (the latter only for me. Other than providing his “sample” and shelling out the cash, Jan wasn’t involved much). By the time we returned, the flat was basically finished… although it would be September before the various workmen were really, truly out of our hair. We still couldn’t use the shower since the glass door for that didn’t arrive until August, but we were able to shower in the bath, had flushing toilets and a kitchen that worked, so good enough. I had another week off work, which I mainly spent cleaning dust from places that hadn’t even been part of the renovation and filling the cupboards in the new kitchen.

Ronda
Ronda, Spain

June meant a long weekend thanks to Whit Monday. Since I didn’t have any appointments for a change we decided to go away for a couple of days. Jan booked a hotel in Interlaken and on the first day we went to Jungfraujoch then the next day we returned to the Aare Gorge and this time had better luck!

The rest of the month was mainly spent unpacking all the kitchen and bathroom stuff that had been living in boxes since the renovation began. Although everything wasn’t completely finished we were at least able to get back to some kind of normality! We also visited the two zero waste supermarkets Basel has to offer in preparation for plastic-free July. I had my first IVF embryo transfer in June as well. It all went smoothly, but as you already know, implantation didn’t happen.

As I’ve just mentioned, in July I attempted to go plastic free. If you’re interested in how I did you can read my posts here, here and here. Jan participated in the Basel Tattoo again (as a member of the choir) and I had a ticket for one of the evenings. I didn’t enjoy it as much as in previous years but it was still really good.

Basel Tattoo lions

I don’t really remember what else I did. Worked a lot. Had my second failed embryo transfer. And on the 31st we went to see the fireworks at the Rhine Falls in advance of Swiss national day.

Rheinfall fireworks

August started with a trip to Eguisheim in France. The 1st is Switzerland’s national holiday and I had taken the day off for it (reminder: I work in Germany so I don’t get it as a public holiday) and we wanted to do something. Eguisheim is a gorgeous village and we had a lovely day out.

Eguisheim1

I then had to work for 2 days before it was the weekend. We had arranged to meet up with a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg, then two weeks later we took a trip to Karlsruhe, first to meet up with friends there and then to meet up with more friends the next day to go hiking. Jan’s mum and her partner also came to Basel to spend a day with us in August. So much socialising! I’m not used to it. LOL.

Freiburg
Freiburg from above

We took a month off from IVF in August so I could have a hysteroscopy… basically a camera inserted in the uterus. In the process, the doctor found some scar tissue, which she cut open and she also drained a cyst. Despite the painkiller I took beforehand it hurt and I was glad when it was over!

August is my birthday month and in 2019 I turned 36. It wasn’t the birthday I had been expecting a year before (when I was still pregnant) but I finished work early to read and then Jan took me for a lovely meal in the evening so it ended up being okay.

September went by way too fast and I didn’t really do much to be honest. Jan and I took a trip to Brugg, which turned out to be disappointing, and we saw John Cleese live with a friend. I also celebrated 10 years in my job… although I didn’t actually “celebrate” at all, just acknowledged it and moved on.

Brugg2
The “Storchenturm” in Brugg

October brought the one year anniversary of losing the boys and another failed embryo transfer. I spent the actual day of the loss showing my great aunt and great uncle around Basel, which was a great distraction (Jan was away with one of his choirs that week). At the weekend Jan and I went up to the memorial where their ashes are buried and then walked into town and had a hot chocolate – which is exactly what we did the day their ashes were placed there. Having a ritual feels like a good thing.

In the middle of the month, we took a trip to the Verenaschlucht (Verena Gorge) in canton Solothurn, where we had a nice walk. I think that was our only trip in October… for most of the month I was incredibly busy at work and didn’t want to do much more than sleep and read on the weekends. Also Jan had a million projects going on and was busy with rehearsals, concerts and meetings practically all the time he wasn’t at work. I did go to watch two of the concerts and went out to eat with the performers after each one though.

Verenaschlucht
Verenaschlucht

I was off work for the last week of October but it rained heavily almost the entire time so it ended up being a washout. We also met with the head doctor of the fertility clinic after our fourth failed embryo transfer and decided I would have another hysteroscopy in December.

November was the first time since May that I didn’t have any infertility related things going on. No appointments. No medication. No procedures. It was kind of relaxing, but also surreal. I had the first week of the month off and was actually able to spend it not thinking about doctors at all! It was also the start of my most sociable period of the year…

We went to Karlsruhe again on the first weekend of the month to watch Jan’s former choir perform and then to see a performance that a friend from student residence days was part of. While we were there we of course met up with various friends, including being invited for breakfast with one friend, his wife and their baby. It continued to pour down for most of the rest of my time off work, but luckily cleared up in time for my cousin and her boyfriend’s arrival on the 9th. They stayed with us for 4 days (one of which I was working) and we fit in a tour of Basel including a visit to the autumn fair and a trip up a mountain followed by a boat ride to Lucerne. Then they went to Colmar by themselves for a day while I worked. I had the absolute best time with them. Having them to stay was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

Rigi Kulm view
The view from Rigi Kulm

The following weekend, a friend (and former colleague) came to stay with us for a night on her way home to Luxembourg from Zurich. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2016 so it was nice to catch up in person!

I also had my best reading month quite possibly of my entire life in November thanks to a middle grade readathon called Believathon. I had a great time reading nothing but children’s books for an entire month – it was honestly exactly the escape I needed from a not particularly great year.

And finally we come to December… which I’ve literally just recapped in a post so I’ll try not to say too much in this section. I had my hysteroscopy appointment at the beginning of the month, but unfortunately the doctor couldn’t manage to insert the camera properly so she had to stop (I still ended up with cramps later in the day though!). We went to the Christmas market in Baden-Baden, where we met up with the same friends we saw in Freiburg in August, who then also came to stay with us for New Year. I also met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one night only. I showed her and her family around Basel, and of course we had a Glühwein at Basel’s Christmas market.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt
Baden-Baden Christmas market

I saw Jan perform twice with different choirs/groups and went out to eat with the performers afterwards both times, then we went to a birthday party the day before we flew to England for Christmas with my family. We had five days there, which we used to spend time with as many people as possible, but still managed to find some time to chill in between. We also got some lovely gifts and ate a lot of food. And right before Christmas my dad was declared cancer free after spending 2019 being treated for prostate cancer. We returned to Basel on 28th December and I spent the last few days of the year reading It and preparing for visitors while Jan had to work. Then, for the first time since we got together, we actually ended a year in the same place we began it… right here in Basel with friends, games and copious amounts of cheese.

While, unlike 2018, I can’t point to any one particular event that made 2019 terrible I have to say I think last year was worse than the year before. Although the end of 2018 was obviously awful (to recap: we lost our boys, my maternal grandma died exactly a week later, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted and my dad was diagnosed with cancer), for a time before that things were looking up I was the happiest I had ever been. In many ways, the constant, ongoing stress of 2019 has felt so much worse than happiness followed by complete devastation. I feel like I spent most of last year very much in my own bubble, licking my wounds (which is also why I’ve been a horrible friend for the most part and have utterly failed to stay in touch with anyone or keep up with my friends’ lives). But over 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!)

This has been longer than I intended, so if you’ve actually made it this far then thank you! I hope this new year is everything you want it to be.

December 2019 recap

Hello friends. It is the first Thursday of the month, of the year… of the decade. Wow! I have some 2020 goals to tell you about, but before I do that I want to draw a line under last year – starting with telling you what I did in December.

I’m linking up with the wonderful Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

Days out and socialising

We don’t do much travelling in December, so I’m lumping a few things in together. On the 7th we went to Baden-Baden to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend and to go to the Christmas market. None of us had been to the Christmas market there before and it turns out it’s a nice one. And it’s always nice to catch up with friends. The same friends then came to us to celebrate New Year. They arrived in the afternoon of the 31st and we played board games together before indulging in some delicious raclette. We then went into town to watch the fireworks, which start at 12:30 a.m. here, so technically that part belongs in January’s recap.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt

In between those things, I met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one day only. I showed her, her husband and their sons around Basel a bit, which of course also included a visit to the Christmas market. It was nice to put a face/voice to the person behind the letter.

Basel Christmas market

On 20th December, my last day of work for the year, I finished slightly early I went to Zurich to meet Jan after work. I wanted to see the lights on the Landesmuseum (which Lyndsay had posted a photo of on Instagram). We decided we didn’t want to join the very long queue though, so instead we walked down the Christmas market in front of the opera. By the time we got there it was raining heavily, but I found myself some food and we huddled under a crowded shelter while I ate it. Jan wasn’t hungry and neither of us felt like drinking Glühwein in a downpour so we gave up and took a tram back to the train station. So much for celebrating no more work – I might as well have stayed home and cleaned!

The next day was a friend’s birthday (Jan’s friend really, from one of his choirs). She celebrated at Klara, which is a cool place with a bar and various different food stands. That day was photo an hour, but I haven’t written my post for that yet so stay tuned for that one!

Apart from that (and going to England), the only travelling I did was on the days I had to go into the office, which doesn’t really count. One of those occasions was for my work Christmas meal though, so that was nice at least. I stayed the night in a hotel and worked in the office the next day.

England and Christmas

After all the crap that went on this year, I decided I wanted to spend Christmas in England for once… especially since this could be the last time Jan can actually travel there easily! Since we had the birthday party on the 21st, we flew on the 22nd. As always, there were a lot of people to meet. On the 23rd, we went to Morpeth in the morning, where we met up with my mum for breakfast. I also saw the Tree of Light. For a small fee (the money goes to charity) you can write a message to hang on the tree. My grandma hung three messages on it – one for my grandpa, one for my step-mum, and one for our boys.

Morpeth Tree of Light

We then decided to drive around for a bit before it was time to meet my friend and her sons to exchange gifts. We had a walk along Blyth beach before driving up to Tynemouth for a brief glimpse of the priory. Then it was time to meet my friend and exchange Christmas gifts. Her eldest son is my godson so I needed to remind him what I look like 😉 It had been nearly two and a half years since I last saw them. In the evening we headed to Newcastle to meet up with another friend and his girlfriend. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him, but I know I had never met his girlfriend and they’ve been together two years! Crazy how time goes by. We met for food at a place called Nudo, which was delicious. I had the most amazing fried dumplings.

Tynemouth castle and priory
Tynemouth Castle and Priory

 

Christmas Eve was actually a relatively free day. We got to sleep in for a bit, then we had to pick up a package from Jan’s sister that had arrived the day before. We then joined my dad for a brief drink – he was meeting up with my former brother-in-law, who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, give or take, came home for dinner and just chilled in the evening. I think maybe we watched some documentary.

Christmas day started with presents, of course. My dad gave me a book I had asked for, Jan got my board games and my friend gave me some beautiful Christmas tree decorations with the boys’ names carved on them. They will definitely be going on our tree the next time we have one! Christmas dinner was the usual feast – turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, both mashed and roast potatoes, bread pudding and various vegetables. Afterwards my dad, his partner and my brother went to visit her family while we drove to my mum’s to spend some time with her and my brother. More gifts were exchanged, of course. One of mine was Lush bath bombs, so now half the clothes that were in the suitcase smell like Lush! The evening was spent back at my dad’s playing Cards Against Humanity.

Boxing Day, or Saint Stephen’s Day if you prefer, was more of the same… presents and way too much food. We went over to my grandma’s in the morning for gift-giving followed by lunch. We were joined there by my sister and brother-in-law as well as a friend of my grandma’s.

Boxing day lunch
“Light lunch” grandma style – there was also soup and a giant chocolate and pear trifle

Later we met my mum and brother in the pub before walking up to their place for more drinks and some snacks. It was a lovely chilled afternoon/evening. My dad picked us up, along with my sister and brother-in-law (and their dog) at around 10 p.m. as we were all staying at his place that night. I gave my brother-in-law an Only Connect (TV quiz show) book for Christmas and we had a go at some of the puzzles before heading to bed. We actually did reasonably well!

On the 27th, we had arranged to meet with yet another friend and her husband. We went for lunch at a pub called The Snowy Owl… you can see Christmas consisted mainly of eating! They got married last year (we went to the wedding), bought a house this year and she is also pregnant so obviously they’ve had an exciting time and had a lot to talk about. The pub was having an issue with the gas so the food took a long time to arrive, but once it did it was pretty good. Back at my dad’s, I went through some of my boxes of books that were still there (I was looking for a locked-room mystery for Erin’s challenge and ended up also taking a few more), then we packed the suitcases and walked up to a local pub with my uncle, sister, brother-in-law and the dog. My brother joined us there as well as some friends of the family. It was another nice evening catching up with people. My dad came later and, since he can’t really drink at the moment, acted as designated driver for various people. Once we got home, we basically went straight to bed since we needed to be at the airport by 10 a.m. the next day. And that was Christmas. Not too much rushing around, but still lots of catching with family and friends and no time to dwell on the fact that this should have been our twins’ first Christmas.

Craft stuff/cross stitch

Obviously all my December crafting involved Christmas. I cross stitched many designs and then made them up into cards. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

Obviously the majority of December was festivities, but there are a couple of other things to mention as well.

– At the beginning of the month, I had an appointment for another hysteroscopy. Unfortunately the doctor ended up not being able to carry it out – apparently my cervix was in a weird position, then once she figured that out there was too much resistance and she didn’t want to force it and end up doing more harm than good. So after 4 or 5 attempts she gave up and I have to try again this cycle. That means at least another month until we can do another embryo transfer, but hopefully once the hysteroscopy and associated cyst removal is done our chances of the transfer actually working will be increased.

– My dad was declared cancer free the week before Christmas, and his hip pain is also slowly improving. Hopefully that marks the beginning of the end of my family’s run of bad luck! That will most likely be the last time I mention what’s happening with my family on here, since as I said last month I find it unfair to write about other people on my blog.

That’s it, I think. I will post a round-up of what I read this month on Show Us Your Books day, but I can tell you now that it isn’t as many books as usual – partly because I was busy, but also because I was mostly reading It and that book is long!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by the people you love the most, and have entered the new decade refreshed and ready to face whatever life has to throw at you (preferably more good things than bad, and only minor bad things!). Don’t forget to check out the link up, say hi to Kristen and see what’s new with everyone else.

August 2019 recap

Hello my lovely readers! I am not impressed that August is over already. This year is definitely going too fast. It’s the ninth month of the year and I feel like I have literally nothing to show for 2019! Aaah. We’re going to see John Cleese tonight and then I’ve taken tomorrow off since it was supposed to be a going into the office day and there’s no way I’m taking a 7 a.m. train after a late night. Buuuut I’m supposed to be recapping August, so enough of that. I’m linking up with the amazing Kristen, of course (if you don’t know who she is then all I can say is why not?).

whats new with you

Sticking with the same format as last month and grouping things into headings.

Travel/day trips

We started out the month by going out for the day on 1st August – which was Swiss national day. I caused some confusion last month by saying I had taken the day off, so I’ll clear that up now. Yes, Switzerland does get a holiday on 1st August, but I work in Germany (or mostly from home, but my employer is in Germany) so it’s not a holiday for me. I get German Reunification Day instead, which is in October. Anyway, to celebrate Switzerland’s birthday we… went to France? Obviously. We chose Eguisheim, which is a really cute little village in Alsace. Since it was a weekday and not a holiday in France, it wasn’t too crowded – not sure what it’s like on weekends or peak summer holiday season. After wandering around the village for a while, we sat and had a drink and a snack then drove up to some castle ruins above the village. It was a good day.

Two days later, it was the weekend and we had arranged to meet a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg. She lives in Karlsruhe so it’s technically not halfway (it’s a lot closer to us!) but since Freiburg is always worth a visit and they had never actually been that’s the place we decided on. We strolled around the city, had lunch, climbed a hill and a tower to get a view of the the city and then had ice cream. We hadn’t seen each other since December so it was nice to catch up.

Freiburg

Two weeks later we headed to Karlsruhe. For those who don’t know, that’s where we lived in Germany before we moved to Switzerland. We had plans to meet some friends (plus their friends) who were visiting from California on the Sunday, so we decided to go up a day early and see whether anyone else was around. It was all arranged at slightly short notice so quite a few people were busy or away (I mean, August is summer holiday time for most people), but a few people were around. We met up with two friends, one of whom came with his wife and their son (who was exactly 12 weeks old that day – they got married a short time before the baby was born). Later, we happened to bump into two other friends at a tram stop, and they had their two children with them… the second, who we didn’t know about, was born in December. Another person we were supposed to meet up with but who ended up not having time had got married the weekend before. A while ago tagged in a meme that went something like “All my friends are getting married and having babies. I read over 100 books last year!” and it has never felt more accurate than during that weekend in Karlsruhe (never mind the fact that I had actually been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for around a year at the time I was tagged!). Anyway… we managed to visit two of my favourite places in Karlsruhe: Sukie’s Cake Shop (which I wrote about when it first opened) and Soul, which is where I celebrated my 30th birthday. It was also the Schlosslichtspiele that weekend – a festival of light involving projections on the castle – so we briefly stopped by that.

Schlosslichtspiele2019

The next day, we drove to Ottenhöfen in the Black Forest to meet our friends to go hiking. I also got to meet their daughter for the first time (Jan had seen her when he visited them in California in November). She’s 18 months and so cute. We had a delicious lunch and a nice hike – at least until the heavens opened and we all got drenched. But the rain stopped again shortly before the end of the hike and then there was cake so it was all good.

Renovation stuff

I know I promised I wasn’t going to talk about this again, but the final radiator that was missing turned up on my birthday. I was tempted to ask them to put a bow on it for me. LOL. Someone then came a week later to add some kind of stop to the dining room window, and I took the opportunity to point out that one of the (new!) blinds had stopped working. Apparently we’re not the only ones who’ve encountered that problem. He write it down so hopefully someone will come and fix it. But that really is it done now. We’re expecting to receive the information about the rent increase at any time…

Birthday

I briefly mentioned it above so I suppose I’d better get it over with. I turned 36 on 13th August. I can’t say I was really looking forward to my birthday this year – when I turned 35, I was expecting to be the mother of twins by my next birthday, and once we started trying again I hoped I would at least be pregnant again by now (given we had our first IUI after the loss in December I don’t feel like I was being too optimistic. I mean, the fertility treatments clearly worked once before!). It ended up being an okay day though. I got way more gifts and cards than I expected, and although I was working for most of the day I did get to finish early and spend some time reading, then Jan took me out for a delicious meal. So I can’t really complain. Hopefully next year will be an entirely different birthday.

Reading

It was the bonus round of Erin’s challenge so I was mostly concentrating on that. I ended up reading a couple of books that took me days to finish so I didn’t get through as many as usual. I did, however, manage to read Wundersmith, which I loved just as much as I was expecting. If you want to know more about what I read in August, you’ll have to wait for Show Us Your Books on Tuesday.

Cross-stitch and crafty stuff

I had quite a bit going on in August. I had stitched half of a pattern for my friend’s son whose birthday is in August, so I had to get that finished, made up into a card and posted. Then my brother turned 13 on 1st September, so obviously his card had to be made and sent before the end of the month. Plus Post Pals announced that they are holding an auction to send the kids and their families glamping next year and I promised to contribute a few cross-stitched cards. I also had my godson’s birthday card to stitch (his birthday isn’t until the 13th but I needed to post his presents as packages can take a while to arrive). Just like every month, some Post Pals and their siblings had birthdays in August and at the beginning of September. I’ve mostly been sending shop-bought cards recently (no time!) but in August I hand-made cards for two Post Pals siblings. Phew. This month I am finally starting to stitch my Christmas cards and I will also be making Halloween cards for Post Pals, so that will keep me busy for a while!

 

Visitors

As you will have seen if you read my photo an hour post, Jan’s mum and her partner came to see us for the day. Every year they have a holiday at Lake Constance and we always try to meet up with them. This time they wanted to see our renovations, of course. Then we went into town and had food and drinks. They’ve been to Basel before so we didn’t need to show them around and it was too hot to do much walking anyway so we just had a nice, relaxing day.

Miscellaneous/general other stuff

In infertility news… I had to have a hysteroscopy, which is when they insert a camera in the uterus. They told me to take a painkiller an hour beforehand but it still hurt. Do not recommend. (I mean, if you need one I obviously recommend that you go ahead and have it done, but be prepared for pain.) The doctor found some scar tissue (probably caused when I had to have a curettage after losing the boys) and a cyst in the lining, so she removed those which will hopefully mean an embryo is now in with a chance of implanting. Fingers crossed!

This past weekend (which I am aware was only half in August) Jan was away and instead of sorting out the million and one things that needed doing, I decided to reorganise my books. Because of course. I’m still not fully happy with it… specifically with some of the shelves on the right-hand bookcase. But it will do for now. Most of my to-read books are now at the bottom left – both rows of the second shelf up and the ones at the front of the very bottom shelf. Yes, I have problems… (also no idea how they’re going to fit on the other shelves once I’ve read them!)

bookcases

Other than that work has been both busy and far too quiet at different times (obviously). During the last week of the month, whoever of my colleagues and former colleagues/interns, etc. can make it go out for a meal and this time I managed to be in the office on the right day – usually I don’t make it since I’m there on the first Friday of the month and two weeks in a row would be a bit much, but tomorrow I have the day off so I rearranged things a bit. It was nice to be able to join again, even though I had to rush off before everyone else to avoid getting back to Basel even later.

Jan had to work late a lot in August and also had choir rehearsals/meetings on some other evenings, so I was home alone for dinner a few times. As a result, I’ve done a terrible job of eating vegetables this month – I really must stop just shoving something in the oven when I’m eating alone! But thanks to the heat I haven’t done too badly at drinking enough water. I also managed to write I think two penpal letters this month… one was a reply to a letter I received in around February, which pretty much sums up how I’m doing with all my relationships this year. Pen pals, real-life friends, people online… I don’t discriminate – I’m an equally bad friend to everyone this year. Sorry (and not “not sorry”. I really am sorry – although apparently not enough to have a word with myself and start being a better friend?) That’s all I can think of. Probably a good thing… this post is already long enough 😉

I hope you all had a great August! Check out the link up to see what else has been happening recently in blog land.

June 2019 recap

Hello friends! Can you believe it’s July already? More than half the year gone, just like that. Next month is my birthday! Thinking about it makes me feel a little sick. Another year older and nothing to show for it. But that’s not what today’s post is about. It’s the first Thursday of the month, and that means I’m linking up with Kristen to talk about what’s new in my life (short answer: not much).

whats new with you

On the first day of June, we went to see a Swiss comedian called Emil (I don’t remember his last name, but it’s irrelevant anyway – he performs as just Emil). Some of it was funny, some of it I didn’t understand and some of the jokes might have been funny when he started out (he’s pretty old) but today they came across as… old-fashioned at best (think stereotypical gender stuff). A friend of Jan’s from one of his choirs joined us and stayed the night since she lives in Zurich. On the Sunday she wanted to take an early train, so we got up early too and had breakfast with her. Later we headed into town and ate ice cream shaped like flowers. And then my holiday was over and the Monday was back to work…. which you wouldn’t think would be a problem after two weeks off, but I really, really didn’t wanna. It ended up not being too bad though. I was in the office on the Friday and between the train journey there and back I managed to read an entire book. Woo. Then came the weekend, which was a long one thanks to Whit Monday.

We decided to make the most of the three day weekend and go away for a couple of days. Jan booked us a hotel in Interlaken and we decided on Jungfraujoch on the Saturday and then see what we felt like doing on the Sunday based on the weather. Jan booked train tickets from Interlaken Ost up to Jungfraujoch on the Saturday, choosing 10 a.m. as the time… except it turns out that was the time the train from Kleine Scheidegg left! So instead of leaving Basel at around 8 we had to be on a train at 5:59 a.m. Just let that sink in for a minute… It was a loooong day! At the top we had to acclimatise first – it’s high! 3,466 metres (11,371 ft) above sea level, to be exact. So we explored the things around the station – viewing platforms, ice tunnel with random sculptures. I felt dizzy at first and got out of breath climbing some stairs. The effects of altitude are real! We then decided to hike to the Mönchsjoch Hut. I was slooow, but I made it. We ate some lunch there before making the trek back. Our train back down left at 4:30 p.m., then we walked to our hotel, checked in and went out for dinner before falling into bed completely exhausted.

The forecast for the next day was mostly rain with a chance of thunderstorms. We had been thinking about taking a funicular up another mountain (to Harder Kulm) but there wouldn’t have been much of a view, so instead we took a train to Meiringen and made a second attempt to visit the Aare Gorge… and this time it was open! The rain stopped just as we got there and held off until we reached the other end, so that was nice. Some photos of the very impressive scenery:

Or next stop was the Reichenbach Falls – of Sherlock Holmes fame. We didn’t go all the way to the top – so we didn’t see the exact location of the crime – but we walked far enough up to get an idea. Then we headed back down and sought out a tea room where we could eat meringues (supposedly invented in Meiringen) and an éclair type thing called a Tatzelwurm, named after a mythological dragon-like creature that supposedly lived in the Aare Gorge. By the time we had finished, it was raining heavily so the best course of action seemed to be to take a train home.

The bank holiday Monday was mostly cloudy/rainy. I think we pretty much spent the day unpacking boxes and attempting to get the flat in order. I took advantage of the fact that most of the flats are currently still empty and did some hoovering (on a holiday… I’m such a rebel!). And then it was back to work again. Only a short week, but somehow it draaaagged!

Another weekend arrived, and we basically spent it unpacking boxes. The Saturday was photo an hour. I started late, but you can see what I did for most of the day here. We went into town and bought new pans to replace some of our crappy old IKEA ones. Decent pans… I feel like a real grown up now! Sunday was more of the unpacking, but by the end of it all the kitchen boxes were empty so that’s good. Jan also put the coat rack back up and reattached the shoe cabinet thing to the wall. Almost back to normal!

Week three of June was yet another short one for me – although not for Jan. Corpus Christi may be a holiday in some parts of Switzerland, but neither Basel nor Zurich has one. This time the holiday was on the Thursday, which always completely throws me off. I spent most of Wednesday thinking it was Friday and half of Friday thinking it was Monday! On Thursday, I took advantage of the fact that Basel did not have a holiday and went into town. I didn’t end up buying much though – some shower gel, chocolate raisins,  lunch. That’s about it. I just couldn’t be bothered. Instead I went home, finished a book and read the entirety of another one. Much better use of my time than shopping! I also did some laundry and ran/emptied the dishwasher in an attempt to be at least semi-productive. I also moved most of my picture books from the bookcase into an empty moving box to create more space on the bottom shelf. I’ve rearranged some books and got new ones so obviously most of that space is now full again but at least the bottom two shelves on the middle bookcase look a bit neater. The picture books will stay in the box until I either have a baby to share them with (then they will go on a bookcase in the baby’s room) or I get rid of enough other books to have room for them again.

books
Yes, that’s the *neater* version of the bottom shelf. You don’t want to know how it looked before…

Then came another weekend. Jan had a rehearsal with the Basel Tattoo Choir on the Saturday morning and then he was singing at a church service in the evening. Demonstrations in town resulted in tram chaos, so after trying for a while to get home from the rehearsal, he called me and asked me to gather the clothes he wanted to change into and bring them into town. I obliged and then, since I was in town anyway, went to a supermarket there to buy something for tea. We ate salmon with couscous, in case you’re wondering. What else did I do that day? Cleaned the kitchen. Read. That’s about it. On Sunday Jan had to sing at another church service, then afterwards I met him in town and we went for brunch at a vegetarian restaurant. Afterwards we wanted to check out the Pärkli Jam festival. Unfortunately it turned out all the bands had performed on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was just dance shows. We bought a drink anyway, watched for a while and then went home. Jan cleaned the living room window (very naughty on a Sunday) while I wrote some letters… one was a response to a letter I received in January. Worst. Pen pal. Ever. In the evening Jan was invited to dinner at a friend’s house – said friend is planning a project that Jan will be part of and wanted to discuss it. I had scrambled eggs on toast for tea, and discovered that the spring onion I added to it was only one eighth of a five-a-day portion. Who eats eight spring onions in one go? I had been tired all day so tried to get an early night but of course failed to fall asleep for ages. Grr.

Not much to say about the following week. On the Thursday I had to go into work because we were all going out for a meal in the evening to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary. I also had an appointment in the morning so I couldn’t leave as early as usual and ended up having to take a half day. I just love wasting my overtime to sit on a train [/sarcasm].

The final week of June brought with it a heatwave. It had been hot before that, but for that week we were on a red alert for high temperatures. Umm, yay? Keeping the flat cool enough to work was a challenge. I pretty much had the blinds closed at all times. On the Saturday we ventured out, visiting both zero-waste supermarkets in Basel. I call them supermarkets but neither is very big. We managed to buy washing powder plus a separate water softener, shower gel, shampoo, some vegetables, strawberries, eggs and a glass jar of yoghurt. We didn’t buy any of the staple foods (pasta, rice) since we already have loads. I decided I will go back but you definitely couldn’t do a full shop there! Back at home we didn’t do a lot. I think Jan watched some of the women’s football world cup. Then we ended up taking a two-hour nap. Sunday we didn’t do much. A few of my friends’ children have birthdays coming up so I stitched something for one boy’s card and then stitched and made a card for my cousin’s new baby.

Baby card

And that was my June. I’m still not sure how I feel about recapping my months in this format, so let me know what you think. Is the weekly run-down as boring as I think it is? Should I stick to just highlights and ignore the weekends where we did nothing much? (Does anybody care that I unpacked my kitchen stuff or went to a zero-waste supermarket?). Tell me your thoughts in the comments! And let me know what you’ve been up to lately as well. Also, definitely check out the link up to see what’s new with other people around the blogosphere.

May 2019 recap

Hello my lovelies. Today I’m here to talk about May. Not Theresa May – I have no desire to discuss her or any of the mess that is currently politics in Britain. No, I mean the month of May… and specifically what I got up to in it.

Of course I am linking up with the lovely Kristen for What’s New With You.

whats new with you

In a way, it was a month of two halves. For the first two weeks, we were living on an actual building site while our bathrooms and kitchen were being replaced. That meant our flat had no shower, no toilets and nowhere to cook. We were provided with a portable toilet and a small electric hob, and there was a temporary shower set up downstairs in the drying room. For those who missed it, a couple of photos of what the place looked like, including one of the sink that was installed in the stairwell so we could at least attempt to wash dishes:

During the week, I rented a desk in a co-working space and at night we ate out. Spending as little time as possible at home made things bearable, but it was still a relief when the time came for us to go on holiday! Since we were flying from Zurich airport relatively early in the morning, we decided to go to Zurich the night before (well, Jan just stayed there since it’s where he worked) and sleep in a hotel. I am so glad we did! It meant a night in a dust-free room, a proper shower and a slightly later/less stressful start – we would have had to take a train from Basel at around 6 a.m.!

And then it was off to Ronda, Spain to meet family and friends. We had two full days and an afternoon there with my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. My mum, her friend, Jan, my brother and I all stayed in a lovely apartment while the others were just down the road.

Everyone else left early on the Tuesday morning, but we had decided we wanted to have more than an extended weekend away, so we had booked an apartment in Cádiz for the next two nights. On the way there, we stopped off for a day on Gibraltar. The town is so bizarre – looking at it, you could be on any high street in the UK – there’s Debenhams, Next, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, multiple fish and chip shops. I even spied my bank (Natwest). The post boxes and phone booths are red and even the bins resembled those I know from Newcastle. But the buildings and trees are all wrong – I’ve never seen purple blossoms in the middle of a British town!

After wandering through the town, we of course took the cable car up the mountain, because what else do you do on Gibraltar? It was amazing being right up close to the monkeys – but also kind of terrifying. Especially when two of them started shouting at each other and it seemed like a fight was about to happen. We were already heading back to the cable car at that point and needless to say we didn’t hang around near those particular apes for long!

We then drove on to Cádiz, arriving around 6 o’clock in the evening, spent the next day there and finally headed to Lisbon via Evora. After two days in Lisbon and a very brief stop in Sintra on our final morning, it was time to fly home. Back in Basel, we stopped for dinner before doing anything else since we had no idea what the state of our flat was going to be…

As it turns out, it was almost finished. We had toilets that actually flushed and a working kitchen (although we waited until after the final inspection to actually use it). I still had another week off work so on the Monday I walked into town very early in the morning so the flat would be free for them to get on with whatever last minute things needed doing. I bought breakfast, which I ate in the park, then went to a café called Unternehmen Mitte where they let you just sit without having to purchase anything. There, I finished the book I had started reading on the flight home. So that killed about 2 hours. I had a wander round town, bought and ate some lunch, then ended up in a bookshop where I was very naughty and bought two books. I then read one of those books sitting at the train station – the only other place I could think of where you can sit for ages without being moved on! My initial idea had been to go back to the park where I had breakfast, but every seat was taken by people on their lunch breaks. Book finished, I went and treated myself to coffee and cake in the restaurant of a department store. Finally, at 4 p.m. I started walking home, arriving to find that the builders had already left. Tuesday was inspection day, so I trailed the construction manager and his assistant as they made a list of all the small things that still needed to be done – cracks to paint over, holes to be filled. I also got official permission to fill the fridge and start putting things back in the kitchen, so that’s what I spent the rest of the week doing. Plus cleaning every single thing. Construction dust gets everywhere! I’ve never hoovered so much in my life Thursday was a public holiday, so on that day I actually had Jan to help. And the new washing machine (in our actual flat!) got used a lot. As did the tumbler dryer, which I am aware is incredibly bad for the environment but with the drying room still out of commission (that’s where the temporary shower resides) and a friend staying over on Saturday, which meant the spare room bedding needed to be freed from dust, we didn’t have much of a choice. You can’t dry sheets and quilt covers on a clothes horse!

Okay, this is already long so just quickly. During those first two weeks when everything was going on, we obviously didn’t want to spend too much time in our dusty, dusty flat, so on 1st May – a public holiday – we went to Porrentruy, which is cute but not that exciting. Then on the 4th the builders needed access on a Saturday (at 8 a.m. – no lie in for us!) so we headed to Lenzburg because it was raining and there was a castle that would allow us to be inside. The following Saturday, Jan had a concert in the evening so we ate lunch in town and did some shopping before he had to leave (and I then followed an hour later to attend said concert).

Lenzburg
Lenzburg Castle

As for yearly goals… I didn’t really keep track of my vegetable intake, but we ate at Markthalle and vegetarian restaurant a lot so I think I got my five portions most days… at least until we went on holiday. Lots of cheese and meat boards were consumed there. I definitely managed to drink enough water for the entire month, which I’m proud of. And I finally actually finished a non-fiction book. I mean, I only want to read ten this year and we’re already nearly halfway through. No big deal…

I think that just about sums up my May. The rest of the time I worked (from a co-working space) and attempted to keep the living room and bedroom free from the worst of the dust – a Sisyphean task if there ever was one! My next post will be my choices for round 11 of Erin’s book challenge, which starts on 1st July. May wasn’t my best reading month (although I managed 9 books, so also not my worst ever) so I am hoping to get lots of reading done over the summer months.

Okay, enough. I seem to have gone back to that old rambling format that I was trying to get away from and I’m sure you’re bored of me by now. Go check out the link up because Kristen is awesome and should be shown all the love. And tell me in the comments what you’ve been up to lately.

Unintentionally imitating art

As you will know if you read my last post, we recently came back from holiday. The final few days of our trip were spent in Lisbon, Portugal. Since we were travelling to hot countries, I had obviously taken summer clothes with me, but it wasn’t until I was actually walking around Lisbon that I realised the dress I had put on that day had a pattern that would have been perfect for one of the beautiful tiles that adorn many Portuguese houses. So, for your viewing pleasure, here is a selection of photos of Portuguese tiles and me blending in so well you’d think I’d done it on purpose…

(I was wearing blue and that seems to be the most popular colour, but not all the tiles in the photos below are blue.)

Lisbon

I’m not really sure how to end this post so uhh, just I guess that’s all folks?

Have a lovely day/week/evening/whatever.

Photo an hour in Ronda (19 May 2019)

¡Hola, mis amigos! Last Sunday was photo an hour day, and it just happened to fall on the first full day of my holiday. We were in Ronda, Spain, where we met up with my sister and brother-in-law, my sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and a friend of my mum’s. Let’s see what I got up to that day, shall we?

8:30 a.m. Awake but not getting up yet, so here’s the view from my bed.

9:30 a.m. Now out of bed and having a cuppa.

10:30 a.m. Dressed and waiting for the others to be ready to leave.

11:30 a.m. Admiring the view… the day’s plan being to walk down into the gorge.

12:30 p.m. The start of the journey down.

1:30 p.m. We found water! Hurrah.

2:30 p.m. Back at the top and hitting a bar for some much needed refreshments.

3:30 p.m. Crossing the bridge, and looking down into the gorge.

4:30 p.m. We stopped for lunch… and I also had a beer.

5:30 p.m. Wandering through a rose garden.

6:30 p.m. Back at the apartment to chill for a while… how beautiful is that ceiling?

7:30 p.m. A glass of vino before heading back out.

We went out for dinner after that and I completely forgot to take any more photos, so that’s your lot. Maybe I will remember to post more photos of Ronda at some point, but I wouldn’t hold your breath considering I still haven’t posted must of the ones from our trip around Britain two years ago…

As always, Photo an Hour was hosted by Jane and Louisa. The next one will be on Saturday, 15 June. Make a note of it now if you want to join in!