35 before 35: Champagne in Champagne

Champagne

WordPress congratulated me on my anniversary this morning… apparently this blog has existed for a whole nine years today! So even though I didn’t intend to blog, I didn’t feel like I could let such a momentous occasion pass without a post. And what better way to celebrate than with champagne (albeit champagne that has already been drunk).

Whit Monday is a public holiday in Germany and Switzerland (or at least the parts that are relevant to us), which meant a long weekend. We didn’t want to let it go to waste, so with the Champagne region a mere four and a half hours’ drive from here, I decided it was time to check something else off my 35 before 35 list.

We were staying in Reims, but after arriving there on Saturday evening we decided to spend some time exploring other place and save Reims itself for the next day. First of all, we drove to a village called Avizes, where there’s a champagne company that one of Jan’s colleagues recommended (the one in the photo at the top of this post). Unfortunately they had already closed for the weekend so we couldn’t book a tour. We stopped in a little park just outside the village where even the landscaping featured champagne!

The next stop was Epernay… home of the (apparently) world-famous “Champagne street”. All the big names have headquarters there.

As you can see, it had started to rain by this point, so we were glad to head off and find some food (and actual champagne to drink!). We each chose the evening three course meal. Jan was driving, so he drank some delicious apricot juice, but I chose the version of the meal that came with three types of champagne. Sadly I don’t remember what they were, except that the first one did come from where it says on the glass. How’s that for a wine list though!

After breakfast the next day, we headed into Reims for a look around. I’m going to tell you about that in a separate post though, since there was no champagne drinking involved and this post is for the 35 before 35 item 😉 Instead let’s skip ahead to that afternoon, when we had a G. H. Mumm cellar tour booked.

We saw some of the barrels they originally used, each with the name of the village the grapes came from, learned about the villages where Mumm grow their grapes, saw all the different sizes of champagne bottle that exist (Mumm only has about 4 of them available!) and visited the museum.

Obviously the tour ended with a glass of champagne!

And that’s item 34 crossed off my list: Drink Champagne in Champagne.

 

Recent doings #17

At the beginning of April I said that it looked like it was going to be the fastest month so far this year, and I was not wrong! How on Earth is it May already?! I suppose all the busyness at work has not helped! Last week I ended up doing overtime because it was the only way to get a job finished that had been re-planned to me because my colleague had too much to do, and tomorrow is my first time to go into the office this month (I now have to go twice a month), which means I’ll be out of the house from 6:30 a.m. until just after 8 p.m. Since I am only actually in the office for 6 hours on those days, in those weeks I have to make up the remaining 2 hours on other days. In other words, every two weeks I work an extra half an hour on four days of the week… and that’s before any additional overtime that crops up just because nobody can ever predict when things will get busy. So, that’s one reason my blogging has been rather sporadic lately. Others included going away for Easter, another friend coming to stay for a weekend, and cross stitching lots of cards. But anyway, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch again, so let me tell you about April’s doings…

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Reading. I started the month reading a lot and then didn’t finish a single book in the final week and a bit of April! I had read a total of ten books by the 20th of the month though (but still haven’t finished the one I started after that). I will tell you about them soon, so I won’t list them all here. My favourite was a German crime thriller called MĂ€rchenwald.

Watching. I bought season 1 of The League of Gentlemen on DVD so Jan and I have been watching that. It doesn’t take up much brain power so I can stitch while I watch. Ah, the video cassettes and landlines. So 90s!

Eating. I had big plans to up my veg intake in April, but then I went to Berlin for Easter and ate all the bad (but tasty!) foods – and yes I’m aware I haven’t written about that yet. Then towards the end of the month Jan was out nearly every evening for choir stuff, so I consumed a lot of toast. May will be better (I hope)!

Visiting. My friend K in Berlin. Also…

Travelling. To Berlin to see K 😉 And to Chur at the beginning of April where Jan had a choir performance (which I didn’t see because I had already watched it in Basel – it was the concert I was at in March, but the people he was staying with invited me to come down for a night).

Berlin
Berlin being all atmospheric with clouds

Hosting. A friend from Karlsruhe who we had invited to come down and see an art exhibition as his birthday present from us.

Looking at. Art in said exhibition. Specifically, it was an exhibition of works by Monet.

Going to. Bern and Fribourg with the aforementioned friend on the same weekend that we looked at the art.

Seeing/hearing. Jan performing with another choir last weekend. Also some choirs/a capella groups in Fribourg. See my April photo an hour post.

Cross stitching. Lots of cards for charity. I promise to explain more sooooon (hopefully I will be better at blogging this month…).

Growing. (Well, hopefully). Lavender, Forget-Me-Nots and some herbs. I could have said planting, but Jan did the actual planting. I just give them water and beg them to grow.

plants
Something is happening!

Buying. Uh, what haven’t I been buying more like! Books, craft stuff, an awesome hat in Berlin (technically Jan bought it for me, but with his German card and the only money going into that account right now is from me… so in a round about way I bought it for myself. Weird!). I also ordered a dress but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Planning. Our summer holiday! We are definitely going to be in Britain and we even know where the first stop will be. Holidays from work are approved so the next step is to book a flight…

Okay, I think that’s all. What have you been doing recently?

Switzerland, two years on

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I meant to write this post yesterday, on my actual two-year anniversary of moving to Switzerland, but work and stuff got in the way and I didn’t get round to it. I’m here now though to say that, after two years, I still love living in this amazing place!

Since last year’s post I have:

Swum in the Rhine three more times (getting braver!).

Attended Fasnacht again, this time including the fire parade in Liestal.

Visited even more Swiss places, including the Rhine Falls, Kaiseraugst, Chur and, just this past weekend, Bern and Fribourg again.

Chur
Chur and mountains

Made two friends. Or at the very least acquaintances. We go to the pub quiz together anyway. (Two friends from Karlsruhe have also moved to Basel, so I now have a whole four friends/acquaintances here!).

Had a lot of visitors, including my mam twice and even my sister! Now I just need my dad to get a passport and come over (then I will assume that the world as we know it is ending).

To sum up, life is brilliant and I cannot imagine being anywhere else right now. We are hoping to stay here for a long time, so fingers crossed nothing gets in the way of that (Brexit…). Happy two years in Basel to me!
Now, maybe by the time I write next year’s post I will have a whole group of friends to tell you about…

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!